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Framing Authority

Framing Authority: Sayings, Self, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England

MARY THOMAS CRANE
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 300
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvq0q
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    Framing Authority
    Book Description:

    Writers in sixteenth-century England often kept commonplace books in which to jot down notable fragments encountered during reading or conversation, but few critics have fully appreciated the formative influence this activity had on humanism. Focusing on the discursive practices of "gathering" textual fragments and "framing" or forming, arranging, and assimilating them, Mary Crane shows how keeping commonplace books made up the English humanists' central transaction with antiquity and provided an influential model for authorial practice and authoritative self-fashioning. She thereby revises our perceptions of English humanism, revealing its emphasis on sayings, collectivism, shared resources, anonymous inscription, and balance of power--in contrast to an aristocratic mode of thought, which championed individualism, imperialism, and strong assertion of authorial voice.

    Crane first explores the theory of gathering and framing as articulated in influential sixteenth-century logic and rhetoric texts and in the pedagogical theory with which they were linked in the humanist project. She then investigates the practice of humanist discourse through a series of texts that exemplify the notebook method of composition. These texts include school curricula, political and economic treatises (such as More'sUtopia), contemporary biography, and collections of epigrams and poetic miscellanies.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6331-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-11)

    Hamlet here, as most readers probably realize, refers to the practice of jotting down memorable sayings in a commonplace book. Ralph Bolgar has most thoroughly traced the history of this activity in the Renaissance, from Manuel Chrysoloras’s fifteenth-century revival of Quintilian’s recommendation that students keep a notebook, preserving notable fragments encountered in the course of their reading, through its most influential restatement in Erasmus’sDe copia.¹ Although many scholars acknowledge that the notebook method was widely practiced in England and elsewhere during this period, most of them marginalize, dismiss, or even excoriate its impact on discourse.² Thomas Greene, for instance,...

  5. Chapter I FINDING A PLACE: THE HUMANIST LOGIC OF GATHERING AND FRAMING
    (pp. 12-38)

    Logic texts are the logical place to begin this study because they furnish the most basic articulation of the grounds for gathering and framing. Of course, humanist logic treatises are not really logics at all.¹ Instead, they constitute a kind of rhetoricized dialectic, a quasi-logical basis for the rhetorical program offered by humanists as a replacement for the Scholastic arts curriculum.² In northern Europe and England, such logicians as Rodolphus Agricola, Thomas Wilson, Ralph Lever, Abraham Fraunce, and Dudley Fenner wrote texts designed to serve as pragmatically oriented guides to thinking, reading, teaching, speaking, and writing, and to establish the...

  6. Chapter II COMMON PEOPLE, UNCOMMON WORDS: THE POWER OF RHETORIC
    (pp. 39-52)

    The logicians, then, established gathering fragments of other texts as a central means of producing authentic discourse. These fragments were described as the portions of a text that reflected common ideas about extratextual things, places in the text where the cultural codes of antiquity, Scripture, and sixteenth-century England intersected. Logic texts define the verbal form of such fragments only implicitly when they list kinds of “argument” that are especially efficacious, usually “example,” “sententia,” and “proverb.”¹ Logicians prefer not to consider the purely stylistic qualities that identify these forms for gathering. Their main concern is that the gathered fragments be grounded...

  7. Chapter III SEED OR GOAD: EDUCATING THE HUMANIST SUBJECT
    (pp. 53-76)

    The logical and rhetorical treatises examined in the preceding chapters were, of course, intimately related to the humanist educational project as it was carried out in sixteenth-century England. These works articulated the theoretical bases of the project, and some of them served as school texts through which it was carried out. But another group of texts written in the early years of the sixteenth century might more accurately be called educational treatises; unlike the logics and rhetorics, which emphasize the reshaping or framing of texts, these stress the ways in which texts can be used to frame the student. Works...

  8. Chapter IV EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE IN EARLY SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
    (pp. 77-92)

    At this point, I want to turn from theory to practice, or from discussions of how gathering and framing ought to work to some of the existing textual traces of humanist attempts to use these practices in school, at court, and in print. The line between theory and practice is, however, as Victoria Kahn has argued, impossible to draw with certainty.¹ Theoretical discussions were themselves largely carried out through gathered commonplaces, and those same concepts and analogies—hunting, planting, poison and cure, fortification and goad, common and uncommon—resurface in practical texts and remain vehicles even in those contexts for...

  9. Chapter V PASTIME OR PROFIT: ARISTOCRATIC AND HUMANIST IDEOLOGY, 1520–1550
    (pp. 93-115)

    If humanists were largely successful in instituting their curriculum in schools all over England, they met mixed results in achieving the second part of their goal, the acceptance of a humanist education as a recognized credential for preferment at court. As we have seen, humanist logicians, rhetoricians, and educators continually emphasized that their aim was the construction of a form of discourse and a kind of subject that would be uniquely suited to teach future leaders and to provide prudent political advice. As soon as humanist values and practices move out of the classroom, however, they encounter problems and resistance...

  10. Chapter VI FRAMING THE STATE: WILLIAM CECIL AND THE HUMANIST SYSTEM, 1558–1598
    (pp. 116-135)

    The brief, politically and religiously charged reigns of Edward and Mary disrupted, or at least temporarily displaced, the competition between humanist and aristocratic credentials for courtly advancement.¹ After Elizabeth’s accession, however, factions at court continued to represent themselves with slightly different versions of the courtly and humanist codes that were outlined in the previous chapter.

    In recent years, such critics as Arthur Marotti, Louis Adrian Montrose, and Stephen Greenblatt have explored the complex Petrarchan and pastoral paradigms through which Elizabeth and her courtiers both asserted power and mystified its origins.² Similarly, Daniel Javitch and Frank Whigham have stressed the rhetorical...

  11. Chapter VII “IN A NET TO HOLD THE WIND”: GATHERING, FRAMING, AND LYRIC SUBJECTIVITY, 1520–1540
    (pp. 136-161)

    TheNorton Anthology of English Literatureprovides as good a guide as any to our present canon of sixteenth-century poetry. This canon privileges the love lyric, focusing on the works (largely sonnets) of Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare, and including a few selected poems by other writers.¹ These poems are for the most part aristocratic (or with aristocratic pretensions) and private, and they represent themselves as the deeply felt utterances of a self-expressive speaking voice. Joel Fineman, in his study of Shakespeare’s place in this lyric tradition, articulates a common view of sixteenth-century English love poems and identifies the...

  12. Chapter VIII BEND OR FRAME: LYRIC COLLECTIONS AND THE DANGERS OF NARRATIVE, 1550–1590
    (pp. 162-196)

    If we turn again toThe Norton Anthology of English Literaturefor the history of the phonocentric canon after Wyatt (and his contemporary, Henry Howard, earl of Surrey), we find that they are followed immediately by Sir Philip Sidney, even though both Wyatt and Surrey were dead when Sidney was born in 1554, and even though a stretch of more than forty years separates the periods when they were actively writing.¹ According to the values upon which this canon is based, however, the juxtaposition makes perfect sense. For it was only with Sidney’sAstrophil and Stellasonnet sequence that the...

  13. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 197-200)

    Sidney, of course, did not mark the end of the humanist practices of gathering and framing. But he did formulate versions of self and text which so brilliantly accommodated humanist and courtly practice that they become more difficult to separate. Those who wrote after Sidney inherited a version of gathering and framing that was transformed, almost beyond recognition, in both theory and practice.

    Shakespeare’s sonnets, for instance, seem even further removed from the aphoristic epigrams of the 1520s, or the lumbering fourteeners of Tottel’s Miscellany. And yet, their curiously modern subjectivity, characterized, as Fineman has argued, by a simultaneous construction...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 201-264)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 265-281)