Mirth Making: The Rhetorical Discourse on Jesting in Early Modern England

Front Cover
Univ of South Carolina Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 230 pages
MIRTH MAKING examines the complex and often contradictory ways in which writers of rhetoric and courtesy manuals during the English Renaissance counseled their readers on the powers and hazards of jesting. Shedding light on a subject largely neglected by contemporary scholars, Holcomb's pathbreaking study demonstrates how such humor-related advice points to and participates in broader cultural phenomena - most notably the era's increase in social and geographic mobility and the contest between authority and subversion. Describing the English Renaissance as a brief but crucial phase in the history of jesting discourse, Holcomb differentiates humor-related counsel of the period from that of classical and medieval sources by its focus on communication between people of different stations. Holcomb shows that, in a changing society, handbook writers presented jesting as a socially conservative force and suggests that with a well-placed jest or quip, an orator might enhance his status and persuasive power or shame and ridicule those beneath him. Holcomb also recognizes, however, that rhetoricians confronted significant challenges as they sought to capture, explain, and teach a strategy b

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Jesting Situations
The Topoi or Places of Jesting
Point out Something Unseemly in No Unseemly Manner

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information