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By K. Larson

In 16th and seventeenth century England dialog used to be an embodied act that held the potential to barter, control and remodel social relationships. Early glossy girls in dialog illuminates the level to which gender formed conversational interplay and demonstrates the importance of dialog as a rhetorical perform for ladies.

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Extra resources for Early Modern Women in Conversation (Early Modern Literature in History)

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195). The author 28 Early Modern Women in Conversation of Youths Behaviour commends this decorous individual as worthy of ‘the Epithite of courteous’ (18). Yet recall the discrepancy between inner character and outward behavior that lies at the heart of Richard III. Once a distinct and widely circulated set of conversational precepts became the hallmark of the civil individual, gentility could be performed by anyone. Della Casa commends the individual who displays pleasant manners precisely because he ‘attain[s] high rank’ as a result, even if he is ‘not worthy of high praise in other things’ (32).

23–31) The word ‘conversation’ appears only once in this passage, seemingly as an afterthought. Yet Gloucester plays throughout on the rich nuances associated with early modern conversational interchange as he elides his verbal and social intimacies with Hastings with the supposed traitor’s sexual encounters with Shore’s wife. In its broadest manifestation, conversation was synonymous with human companionship and social interaction, ‘[t]he action of living or having one’s being in a place or among persons’ and ‘of consorting or having dealings with others’ (OED, def.

Throughout, Guazzo’s reflections on civil conversation, understood primarily as the integration of word and action within select society, are mirrored in his choice of the dialogue genre, as the conversations Gendering Conversation and Space in Early Modern England 21 between Anniball and William and among the participants in the dinner party in Book Four model decorous social interchange. For Guazzo and his contemporaries, conversation was at once a civil ideal and a set of codified precepts that could be manipulated for personal advancement.

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