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"An uncivill scurrilous letter": 'womanish brabb[l]es' and the letter of affront

O'Callaghan, M. (2016) "An uncivill scurrilous letter": 'womanish brabb[l]es' and the letter of affront. In: Daybell, J. and Gordon, A. (eds.) Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain. Material Texts. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 169-185. ISBN 9780812248258

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This study of the use of vituperation in the letter argues for a well-understood, if unstable, distinction in elite letter-writing between moderate, constructive anger, which was justifiable, and immoderate anger and violent, abusive words, which could not be tolerated. Elite women, therefore, were able to employ vituperative rhetoric without damaging their reputation. However, this essay shows how elite women also wrote deliberately intemperate angry letters based on a calculation of the social risks involved. These risks were themselves often difficult to determine because of the inherent volatility of angry speech.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:66296
Publisher:University of Pennsylvania Press

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