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Title: Positive representation of Inns of Court lawyers in Jacobean city comedy
Authors: Westlake, David
Advisors: Taunton, N
Leahy, W
Keywords: Inns of Chancery;Poetaster (Ben Jonson);The Phoenix (Thomas Middleton);Ram Alley (Lording Barry);Wife selling;Wife sale
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Brunel University School of Arts PhD Theses
Abstract: This thesis examines representations of lawyers and law in examples of Jacobean city comedy, taking into account certain contemporary developments in the legal profession and the law in England. The period covered is 1598-1616. The thesis questions the conventional interpretation of city comedy as hostile to the legal profession. It suggests the topic is more complex than has been assumed, arguing that city comedy makes direct and indirect positive representation of Inns of Court lawyers, who are to be distinguished from attorneys (newly segregated in the Inns of Chancery), amateur quasi-lawyers, and university-educated civil lawyers. It is proposed that city comedy represents Inns of Court lawyers positively in two ways. Firstly, by means of legal content: representations of developments in the profession and the law demonstrate a wish to connect with the young lawyers and students of the Inns of Court, and reflect a contemporary drive by them for increased organization and regulation. Secondly, by means of literary form: ostensibly pejorative representations need not be taken at face value; instead, they may be found to be ironic. The main proposed contributions to knowledge are: that Inns of Court lawyers were a favoured part of the target audience of the private playhouses, making it questionable that they would be represented negatively in city comedy; that lawyers as represented in city comedy are not a single or a simple category; that representation of lawyers is inflected by the various forms and impulses of city comedy; and that city comedy incorporates some reflection of the increasing professionalization of legal practice in the period.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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