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Against All England

Regional Identity and Cheshire Writing, 1195-1656

Robert W. Barrett, Jr.

Publication Year: 2009

Against All England examines a diverse set of poems, plays, and chronicles produced in Cheshire and its vicinity from the 1190s to the 1650s that collectively argue for the localization of British literary history. These works, including very early monastic writing emanating from St. Werburgh’s Abbey, the Chester Whitsun plays, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, seventeenth-century ceremonials, and various Stanley romances, share in the creation and revision of England’s cultural tradition, demonstrating a vested interest in the intersection of landscape, language, and politics. Barrett’s book grounds itself in Cestrian evidence in order to offer scholars a new, dynamic model of cultural topography, one that acknowledges the complex interlacing of regional and national identities within the longue durée extending from the post-Conquest period to the Restoration. Covering nearly five centuries of literary production within a single geographical location, the book challenges still dominant chronologies of literary history that emphasize cultural rupture and view the “Renaissance” as a sharp break from England’s medieval past.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Contents, Figures, Acknowledgments, Abbreviations, Maps

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pp. vii-xviii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-23

For centuries, the county of Cheshire was the northern bulwark of the Welsh Marches, one of England’s key border zones. As such, it offers an ideal opportunity for a revisionary critique of pre- and early modern English national identity from the vantage point of an explicitly regional literature. The provincial texts under review ...

Part I Chester the City

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Chapter One From Cloister to Corporation

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pp. 27-58

Three moments in time and a single point in space mark the ideological transformation of urban topography in medieval and early modern Chester. Each of these moments focuses on Chester’s city center, the space formed by the intersection of Chester’s ancient Roman streets. Attempting to appropriate the culturally advantageous centrality of this crossroads, all three moments ...

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Chapter Two Grounds of Grace

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pp. 59-95

Three moments in time and a single point in space mark the ideological transformation of urban topography in medieval and early modern Chester. Each of these moments focuses on Chester’s city center, the space formed by the intersection of Chester’s ancient Roman streets. Attempting to appropriate the culturally advantageous centrality of this crossroads, all three moments place ...

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Chapter Three Chester’s Triumph

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pp. 96-129

On 23 April 1610, st. george’s Day.sc, the city.sc of Chester put on a show (subsequently titled Chester’s Triumph in Honor of Her Prince for pamphlet publication).1 the occasion marked two inaugurations: the running of the first st. george’s Day race in Chester as well as Henry Frederick stuart’s upcoming creation as Prince of Wales and Earl of ...

Cheshire the County

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Chapter Four Heraldic Devices/Chivalric Divisions

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pp. 133-170

Of all the texts addressed in this book, none is more firmly linked in modern scholarship to Cheshire and to regional identity than the late fourteenth-century romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (SGGK). Studies of the poem’s dialect have traditionally concerned themselves ....

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Chapter Five Two Shires against All England

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pp. 171-225

The year 1485 was a banner one for Henry Tudor, second Earl of Richmond, with his 22 August victory over Richard III at Bosworth Field leading directly to his 30 October coronation as Henry VII. The year was also good to another English aristocrat: Thomas Stanley, the second Lord Stanley. A master of “the tactics of fence-sitting,” Stanley earned a share of Henry’s triumph without apparently ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 207-222

The Stanley texts are not the only Cheshire-area works with a popular presence in the twenty-first century. Moreover, many of these modern versions maintain a distinctly regional identity, even when presented to national and international audiences. Writing ...

Notes

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pp. 223-278

Bibliography

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pp. 279-295

Index

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pp. 296-306


E-ISBN-13: 9780268075705
E-ISBN-10: 0268075700
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022099
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022097

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: Images removed; no digital rights.
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: ReFormations: Medieval and Early Modern
Series Editor Byline: David Aers, Sarah Beckwith, James Simpson, series editors

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Subject Headings

  • Literature and society -- England -- Cheshire.
  • Cheshire (England) -- In literature.
  • Cheshire (England) -- Intellectual life.
  • English literature -- England -- Cheshire -- History and criticism.
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