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REPORT READINGS ON FOR: Dr. Money BY: PatrickMcEvoy-Halston



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Historiansfor this week's readingusecourtrecordsnot simply asa sourcefor exploring communitylife, but alsoto countertwo possibleeffectsofusing conduct manualsasa source:a conclusionthat the socialworld ofthe conductmanualrepresented a benevolent, collectively sharedsocialnorms;andasa corollary to accepting shared, as conceptionof advicemanualprescriptions societalnorms1 the possibility that using may inculcatea readiness, the historian,to imaginea one in conductmanualsas a source the of to one correspondence between conception the socialworld offeredby conduct
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which book writers andthe mental,andbehavioralworld oftheir intendedaudience, towardsan explorationof the natureof assumes passivesubject,andthus doesnot le,nd a the 'teception" of thesenorms- e.g. werethey ignored?;did they wen reachtheir sociological,but these appear audience? My termsaremodem,the conceptions of conclusions sociologically historiansarenot simply "showingup" the ungrounded of mindedhistorians,but alsooonceptions shmedculture(not 'sub' - cultures)nurtured Burke). The overall by early modemthinkerslike Hume (andlater, especially, ') , i*l1'.'^e ({r,- *t*n [fu<st).'- a, {..,-.lj;4f';7a "' impressionwe get4! the individual is certiinly akin t6 HobbesandLocke's self moving


earlymodemEnglandasa patriarchy,authoritybecomes f. "atoms", but by characterizing potentialof atomistic ittegitimatepower,andthusthe '!ubliC' concernfor anarchic are into a privatewish for the historian: At last,the repressed shaking societV hanslates



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of that when you get a charactenzation public behavior and public motivation that seems to match that depicted by concernedcontemporariesthat there isn't some dissonancewith the simple, stereotypedcorollary of a conceptionof a society as apatiarchy - that the repressedare moral agents. I believe, glveo certain amount of empathyby the mother in your early years,that a person can be entirely "good", so I appreciateany theory that can at least conceive of people in this w&y, but when a historian as fine as Laura Gowing can look to court records to burst conceptionsof gossip as part of a benevolent sharedsubculture, so that gossip becomesmerely the weapon used in the inspired personal affempt to hurt anotherperson, yet still leavespatriarchy standing in a simple, stereotlped construction, there is reasonto think we need a shift out of presenthistoriography. An accumulation of counter-evidenceis supposedto produce this, right? But the historiographical evidencewe get of community life from court records, suggestthat if we can overlook conflicting evidenceto maintain conceptualmodels we like, this may be an old problem that still has modern legs. Simple conceptualmodels are what looking to court records are supposedto implode. by Alexandra Shepardbegins her article on manhood and credit by citing a passage advice manual writers Dod and Cleaver "exhorting" a clear-cut division of labour between the sexes. Her concernis to show that the portrayals of women in advice manuals do not match their own experiencesin life. She writes that the "links between masculinity and economic autonomy has been assumedrather than tested, and risks being renderednormative as much by genderhistorians as by early modern experience"(77). So she usesthe court records as a test, to seewhat effect the "independent variable" conduct manual nonns had on its intended audience. She discoversthat although women


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at times claim no worth in termsof cedit, at othersthey quantiff their own value,and evenascribeto thernselves honourfor'their marketactivities. The mentalworld ofthe advicemanuals, with their cleardelineationof the world of financeto men, was out of syncwith the behavioralworld of community,family life wherework, finance,and purchasing, was a family affair with little cleardelineationof activity certainly consumer accordingto gender. Shewrites: "for the majority of marriedm€n andwomen,the and wastheir predominant, - most maintenance survival of their household and which requiredadaptabilityandthe bestpossibleuse importantly - their mutual, concern, "S to of resources ratherthan adherence a pakiarchalblueprint" (95). So marriedwom* Jt claimedworth in termsof credit - thusrejectingconductmanualnorms- because "ordinary socialpractice" (95) ditreredfrom prescriptivediscourse. d .q I Vl .jrt

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The conclusionthat ordinarysocialpracticediffered from prescriptivediscourse ' *wouldn't have surprisedthe "prescribers" - advice manual writers - this was likely the primary reasonthat they wrote their advice- but what would is Shepard'sconclusion that the only way advice manuals would have any influence, is if their was a match between their conceptualworld and the world as it existed in everyday experience;thereby she appearsto limit any conceptualizationof their social role to being no more than that of an "echo". Sheparddoes not explore why many of thesewives describedthemselvesin a way thatfit with the prescribedroles - despitethe incompatibility with this role and their everyday life experiencs. Were they prescribedto? Did they internalizethe conduct book nonns as a kind of an ideal, even if they didn't neatly match their own activities? These are questionsthat never come up - obviously, thesewomen must have been canny enough to mouth the appropriatewords in the appropriatecontexts. Hindle suggestsin his










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exploration of the public shaming of Margaret Knowsley that self-presentationwas linked to self- preservation.Knowsley knew enough,even though female modesty may not have been a matter of everyday experience,to know that it was expectedin court. So court depositions,including hers, required playing roles. To have any real chanceof avoiding a public punishment, it was crucial for Knowsley to presentherself as virtuous defined as behaving in accordanceto the kind of norms coming out of advice manuals. As even appearingin court, making accusationseven in self-defense,was problematically assertive,she makes sure that she gives a public recognition of this in her deposition, of explaining her reluctant need to do so as a consequence o'such rigorous opposition".

in In Knowsley's case,the carefulmolding of her self-presentation court is best as charactenzed a matter of self -preservation- as a member of an illiterate, marginalized sub-group, the odds were stackedagainsther. However, Hindle also explores how but also as a potential forum Knowsley aimed to use the court not simply for self-defense, )d'humiliate StephenJerome. Added to the mix here then, is the use of conduct book ,/ -/ noffns assertivelyby women. So the answerto why many women describedthemselves according to conduct manual nonns can, perhaps,be found in the exact way in which they could be used as a means they did so - which becomes,for thesehistorians,because of self-assertion. Garthine Walker agreeswith Shepard'scontention that advice manual nonns did not match everyday reality, and sharesShepard'sconcernthat this hasn't been recognized of within historiography. The concern, again,is with the consequences constructing

up and historyout of advicemanualprescriptions hefiemedy6is the world opened with
the use of court records. She aims to refute the oppositional definition of gendered


led has honour. Shewrites:" thepotency this discourse itself frequently to the of and are and selection sources which sexualconduct reputation centralissues, in of in visible" (235). Oneof are which sexualconstruction femaledishonour immediately of
tS llot' her conclusions from the court record$ 'fuhen women emphasized their household I position in refuting sexual dishonour, they did not do so merely as a means of ascribing innocenceto themselves. . . [t] hey also laid claim to an honourability which was defined by what women did rather than what was done to them " (239; emphasismine). So although they did considerably more than prescriptive norms allowed, women promoted daily labour in the household. themselvesfor the work they did that did correspond: of Women were using the ideology of separatespheresfor puqposes self-empowerment. Laura Gowing notes that " underneathstraightforward models of women's responsibilities in householdpresentedby the advice writers were considerableanxieties about the powers this gave women" (97). She offers examplesfrom court records of women taking pains to point out that when they hurled insults, they did so from their own house's doorsteps.And, accordingto BernardCapp,women were also able to use 's prescriptive norms of men morality as an effective weapon to "seize the imitative; turning the tableson [men] who had wronged [them]" (99). He adds:"[t]he exploitation of male sexual reputation should perhapsbe addedto arson and witchcraft among the groups" (99). weaponsof the weak, in the 'infrapolitics' of subordinate As much as thesehistorians are concernedto show that court records demonstratethat role boundaries,conceptionsof public and private, were constantly crossedby both gendersin everyday life, they prefer to keep the border between elite, and subordinate cultures, firm and intact (There is irony here: the "elite" were supposedlywriting these


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advicemanualsout of a fearthat this borderwasbecominginoeasingly perrneable).If legitimate thete were similaritiesbetween"elite" and'llebeian" cultures,it would seern to talk abouta generalpublic, anda "shared"culture. But conceivingof early modem passive suggests ofa cultureasshared, Englandasa patriarchy,any kind of conception I * o) ! lr/12 n,. { Y

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attemptby elite malesby their femaletargetsof u"""pt^"e or ignoranceof the conscious their odiousidioms andpredatorydesigns. Somost of thesehistorianspicturewomen and making useof advicemanualnormsfor their own purposes, makeclearthat these "other", womenknew they were dealingwith an idiom that was a potentiallyoppressive them. or i.e., they did not embrace thesenomrs- they usedthe,m, resisted The exceptioncomesfrom Gowing's work. Gowingusescourtrecordsasher source
as well, but the "simple" constructionsof historiography that shebusts, are not only those by historians constructing models from their use of advice manuals,but also those from someof thesehistorianswho use court records. For example,Gowing believesthat the use of gossip should not be conceived as part of the subordinategroup oral culture with collective, constructive, functions. Instead,gossip is a meansfor an individual woman to humiliate anotherwoman. Shemaintains that there were rituals used by women, because men had other outlets, but what is missing is the usual corollary that women, therefore, "shared", their own common sub-culture. Instead,Gowing talks about women using the 'whore' in every sort of local and personal "broad and powerful possibilities of the word conflict. They called other women whores as one weapon in disputesabout money, goods,or territory' (109). Shewrites: "It was women, most of all, who hunted out whores and called for their punishment"(101). Gowing doesexplain "thatthe culture and legal practice of early modern society containedfew avenuesfor condemning male


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and sexualmisconduct,andinsteadsomewomentumedto public confrontations threats, on directing the blameconvenientlyoutsidetheir marriages to otherwomen" (103),but sheis, I believe,the only onewho errphasizes whetheror not part ofinsulting another between womenwere often womanwasto eet at her husband that confrontations oppositional. her Her work is interestingbecause orientationis different from the otherhistorians-

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force is shaped y theway individualsuseit"(l19); which wasto: "developa goodtale: b malice andhumourweremore importantthanreprimand"(l2l). So althoughshe recogrrizes patriarchicaldivision in power,which offered differenl andoften a for imbalancedavenues strategies the utilization ofpower, shedoesnot then expand and experience, exploitation. Her focusis on the individual, of this into a collective,shared concemed andthe motivesthat madeher move - preciselythe concemof contemporaries when GarthineWalker with the "atoms" in an "atomic" society. At leastin this respect, the to writes, in response an "oppositionalmodel of honour [which] rmderestimates extentto which women'shonourwaspublic, collective,. . . andconnected"(245)thereis at leasta concqltualizationofa public - ratherthan simply self- orientationthat was similar to what advicemanualwriters werehopingto inculcate. Gowing's work suggests what you take from exploringcourtrecordsmight differ that and to in depending the degree which you areinterested exploring"the deeper more on


personalmassof meanings". For example,if your focus is on the degreeto which advice manual nonns coffespondedwith everyday life as lived, as Shepardis, the dissonance you discover might lead to you to assumecertain motivations that you imaglne coffespond to dealing with an "other". Or, if the world as lived is one of marginalization, this too leads to certain assumptionsabout the motivations of those marginalized. However, if your focus is on the world as experiencedrather that the world of experience, it is not enoughto show that people crossedgenderborders to prove that people did not think of themselvesin a stereotlpical fashion. You cannot assumedissonance. The same is true of being marginalized: you would not simply assumethe experiential world of thosemarginalized. For example,in Hindle's article, we have an exampleof a

marginalizedwoman Hindle is willing to saV that pt€d felt angerasresultof her
'recovery of marginahzation. He notes the "increasing concernwith the in experience"(393) modern historiography,but also that "experience[becomes] comprehensible only in the context of 'power networks and public life"' (394). Unlike assumptionsof society''; where society Gowing, Hindle rsprimarily interestedin o'shared here is "subaltern culture, the dissident politics of subordinategroups"(394). He notes, over, Gowing's conceptionof gossip,in preferenceof a concernfor "gossip as but passes a stapleof women's lives, [as a]studyof womens' concernsand values, [as a]keyto the female subculture"(393). So as much as he is clearly interestedin Margaret Knowsley, her private motives seembest understoodthrough her public role as a member of a marginalized subgroup. What happensif you do not imagine an individual's experienceby quickly leaping to the outer context of political placement,and insteadprobe deeperand deeperinto an


individual's mental world? The answeris that you end up needing to consider the larger political context so that Gowing's humiliations, Dodd's accountof women's false accusationsby women of men fathering children, ffe actions in responseto an oppressive environment, so that you do not understandthem as internally generatedas part of their nature. As I understandit. the historian must decide whether to assumea Lockean sense of human nature or a Kantian one. If you hold a Kantian view of human nafure, you are not as likely to be interestedin the sensual,or oppressive,world of nature, or the way the world really was, but insteadthe way that individuals cognitively understoodand shaped their environment. And from this viewpoint, the aspectof Hindle's article that deserves consideration,is his noting that "gossip" became"scandal" only though the gradual assimilation of trivia to existing cultural stereotypes. He says: "[t]he story was retold in 'truth' of what was already ways that were plausible, that traded registerswith the 'known' or suspected" (401). But if you acceptthat peoplein communitiesactively transformed what was into what they wanted to be true, then trivia, or the complicated, unique, non codified world as it ,s, may have little to do with how their world was perceived, i.e. you simply can't go to the court records, show how everyday life did not match conduct book prescriptions, and then infer experience. And, as well, demonstratingthe unequal mechanismsof patriarchy, as Hindle does,is not enoughto say anything conclusive about the "experience of authority in early modern England"(391): including, possibly, assumingthat the experienceof authority as felt as oppressive(did the "shaming of Margaret Knowsley'' shameMargaret Knowsley?). If people thought in terms of stereotypes, and this was the "construction" of the world that conduct books offered, then perhapsconduct books were written in an easily digestible


way - maybe they bridged pretty well the chasmbetween oral and written culture, or suggestthat this chasmwas more easily crossedthan we might assume. on Gowing, in fact, suggestsan eagerness the part of people in the community not to resist conductbook norrns,but to enhancethem. Shementionsthat "images of whoredom that were promulgated in popular and prescriptive literature proved a useful sourcefor somepowerful insults"(l14). That: "[m]ore than the absorptionof contemporarymoral teaching, sexual slandertestifies to a use of the ideas and targets that popular, elite, and ecclesiastical culture set up" (114). And shemeans,at least partially, that when "[i]nsults played on the ideas of honour presentedin contemporary oral and printed culture, but did not entirely reproducethem" (114) that, at the community level, the notion, that some conduct book writers ascribedto, that both genderswere responsiblefor their sexual activity, becamean obsessionwith the dangerous"whore" (114). There is a senseof a hungry, populace,eagerto consumeprescriptivebook nonns as much as they might the new "groceries" making their way into modern diets - with the conductbook "groceries" being kind of like tofu burgers:giving people what they wanted, and*vhatthey neededvia somestealth. The clear delineationof roles, even while assigningto men all "public" activity, by rccognizing to some degreethat both men becomesalmost an role boundaries, and women could be guilty of transgressing improvement over a local, oral obsessionwith the dangerousfemale. It is also interesting that one of her conclusionsfrom her study of local court records is that people used the forum of the court as a kind of play - for fun. She remarks that most of the time, suits in court were dropped after there was an opporfunity for public accusations,and self-promotion, and that, as a couple of other historians here note, that


not the legal consequences transgressions generally asharshasonemight for were with as imagine. With Gowing,the court,in a way, canbe imagined a kind of playhouse, of parties playing"roles" for personal Hindle'sconception the advantage. oppositional though actionby legallysophisticated, defensive useof rolesasa kind of retroguard, is illiteratewomen,is not asvisiblein herwork. Theideaof a courtasa playhouse an between because leadsto imaginga correspondence it extremetry.t":tr18 construction the concern{mod t)/afor the comrptionof the King's courtwith the comrptionof "
\---court at a locallevel. Advice manuals intended for public consumption were aimed to

tame the samebeast as earlier advice manualswritten for gentry. It ls possible to conclude from local court recordsthat the concern contemporarieshad that society was not motivated in order to protect patriarchical or elite neededto reconce,ptualized privilege, but truly out of fears of anarchicpassionswhich existed in all men, from the gentry on down. The court evidencedoesnot disprove the legitimacy of their concern,


it and if you view the evidencewithout consideringpolitical context (oppression) isn't obvious, even if advice manuals did not prescribewith the moral authority of a societal super-ego,that they may did not play the part of the ego - helping channel natural passionsinto healthier avenues( or, if you prefer, substitutein the Enlightenment concept of reasonas a guiding passion). However it worked, if you can considerthis possibility, you can read people like Mandeville or Shaftesbury,in a way that you cannot if you look at texts as sitesof power contestation. Again, I'll finish by saying, that I certainly do not hold a Hobbesianview of human nature (I believe our nature varies according to our family environment - phenotype, not simply genotype), I am interestedin reading history that imagines complex motivations


for human behaviour, that, by and large, just isn't coming from historiography that sniffs out power relations (Gowing, in particular, is an exception). I hope this becomesa shared concern,becauseif the way in which many of thesehistorians use court records is any evidence - a sourcewhich is supposedto unearth experiential life - it isn't clear that any kind of empirical evidenceis going to challengefavoured models of construing motivations. Anthropology has shown evidenceof this for years. Clifford Geertz,in describing Balinese cock-fights by joining Balinesemen in their ritual, intuited that men enjoyedviolence for violence sake,and that this was the reasonthey had cock-fights i.e. becauseviolence was meaningful. In response,critics said that their violence could only be understoodin the context of oppressivewestern-colonization;get rid of the Westerners,and you'll eliminate cock-fighting. In my opinion, the only way that empirical evidence can overfurn theory ridden history - as the historians I have covered here have hoped to do by using court records as a source- is if historians are not inclined to transform "trivia" which may not easily conform to a stereotlped point of view (i.e., all those who are dis-empoweredare moral agents- a Mamist concept?)into something more digestible - e.g., more than likely, into anotherweapon of legitimate resistance. It is possible that the only way you get there, is through a successfulDescartian conflict between clear, soulful reasonand the passions: we have to get past needing for the past, and its actors,to be a certain wdy, before we'll be able to imagine them otherwise.