Show Less
Restricted access

Using the Devil with Courtesy

Shakespeare and the Language of (Im)Politeness


Bianca Del Villano

Renaissance England was marked by a pervasive culture of courtesy. The research hypothesis of this book is that verbal courtesy, for historical and social reasons involving social mobility and the crisis produced by the clash between different systems of thought (Humanism, Catholicism, Protestantism, new scientific discourses), soon became strategic language, characterised by specific forms of facework detectable through the patterns of politeness and impoliteness employed by speakers.

Adopting a historical pragmatic perspective, Using the Devil with Courtesy semantically and conceptually connects courtesy and (im)politeness to analyse Renaissance forms of (im)politeness through Shakespeare. Drawing on a methodological line of research running from Goffman (1967) and Grice (1967), to Brown and Levinson (1987), Jucker (2010) and Culpeper (2011), the book focuses specifically on Hamlet (c. 1601) and The Taming of the Shrew (c. 1594) with three principal aims: 1) to survey the (im)polite strategies used by the characters; 2) to explore how this language connects to a specific Renaissance subjectivity; 3) to link language and subjectivity to extra-textual (historical and semiotic) factors.

Table of contents