A Polite and Enlightened London?

Article


Carr, R. 2016. A Polite and Enlightened London? The Historical Journal. 59 (02), pp. 623-634.
AuthorsCarr, R.
Abstract

The character of eighteenth-century English society remains a subject of debate, and diverse perspectives are particularly pronounced when it comes to the cultural influence and power of politeness. The monographs discussed below all engage with politeness in different ways. Emma Major and Sarah Apetrei explore the means by which polite culture facilitated female cultural agency, and thus follow Lawrence Klein's call to comprehend the lived experience of politeness. Taking a different tack, Simon Dickie and Vic Gatrell reject the idea that politeness enjoyed the cultural dominance ascribed to it by Klein and other historians. In Ildiko Csengei's study, the narrative of an emergent civility is challenged through an analysis of sensibility's ‘darker side’. This move towards an acceptance of the power of the impolite in British culture is also explored by Faramerz Dabhoiwala, who emphasizes the power of the liberated male libertine, and broadens the scope for understanding eighteenth-century culture. Yet, an abandonment of politeness risks removing women's agency from the picture, with Major, Apetrei, and Karen O'Brien all emphasizing the importance of the feminine to politeness and virtue; in O'Brien's case, in the context of Enlightenment concepts of civility, where the feminine symbolized progress and refinement.

JournalThe Historical Journal
Journal citation59 (02), pp. 623-634
ISSN0018-246X
Year2016
PublisherCambridge University Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1017/S0018246X16000042
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X16000042
Publication dates
Print17 Mar 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Sep 2017
Copyright information© 2016 Cambridge University Press
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