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Country House Discourse in Early Modern England: A Cultural Study of Landscape and Legitimacy

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In this study, Kari Boyd McBride defines 'country house discourse' as a network of fictions that articulated and mediated early modern concerns about the right use of land and the social relationships that land engendered. McBride provides new perspectives on the roles of the discourse she identifies, linking it with a number of larger historical shifts during the time per In this study, Kari Boyd McBride defines 'country house discourse' as a network of fictions that articulated and mediated early modern concerns about the right use of land and the social relationships that land engendered. McBride provides new perspectives on the roles of the discourse she identifies, linking it with a number of larger historical shifts during the time period. Her interdisciplinary focus allows her to bring together a wide range of material-including architecture, poetry, oil painting, economic and social history, and proscriptive literature-in order to examine their complex interrelationship, revealing connections unexplored in more narrowly focused studies. McBride delineates the ways in which the country house (on the landscape and in literature) provided a locus for the construction of gender, race, class, and nation. Of particular interest is her focus on women's relationships to the country house: their writing of country house poetry and their representation in that literature; their designing of country houses and their lives within those architectural spaces (whether as lady of the house or domestic servant). One of the most important and promising insights in this study is that country house discourse was not simply static and nostalgic, but actually worked to mediate change. All in all, she presents a fresh and detailed study of the great disparities between country house reality and the ideals that informed country house discourse.


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In this study, Kari Boyd McBride defines 'country house discourse' as a network of fictions that articulated and mediated early modern concerns about the right use of land and the social relationships that land engendered. McBride provides new perspectives on the roles of the discourse she identifies, linking it with a number of larger historical shifts during the time per In this study, Kari Boyd McBride defines 'country house discourse' as a network of fictions that articulated and mediated early modern concerns about the right use of land and the social relationships that land engendered. McBride provides new perspectives on the roles of the discourse she identifies, linking it with a number of larger historical shifts during the time period. Her interdisciplinary focus allows her to bring together a wide range of material-including architecture, poetry, oil painting, economic and social history, and proscriptive literature-in order to examine their complex interrelationship, revealing connections unexplored in more narrowly focused studies. McBride delineates the ways in which the country house (on the landscape and in literature) provided a locus for the construction of gender, race, class, and nation. Of particular interest is her focus on women's relationships to the country house: their writing of country house poetry and their representation in that literature; their designing of country houses and their lives within those architectural spaces (whether as lady of the house or domestic servant). One of the most important and promising insights in this study is that country house discourse was not simply static and nostalgic, but actually worked to mediate change. All in all, she presents a fresh and detailed study of the great disparities between country house reality and the ideals that informed country house discourse.

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