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Aesthetics and political authority in the English Revolution, 1642–49

Sargeant, Jack David; (2021) Aesthetics and political authority in the English Revolution, 1642–49. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis explores the role of aesthetics in the assertion and contestation of political authority during the English Revolution (1642–49). It makes two overarching arguments. The first is that ritual acts and artefacts were central to the naturalisation and reproduction of the early modern social order, and that this, up to the 1640s, was underpinned by an understanding of authority as inherent to the material—rather than social—world. In the thesis, the complicity of the aesthetic in the production of authority is revealed through a series of examples in which rival royalist and parliamentarian officials contested, appropriated, and in some cases subverted the symbolic traces of sovereign power during civil war. Spaces, objects, and ritual acts became vectors for the pursuit of entrenched ideological conflicts. In their examination, the thesis draws on a variety of evidence, from newsbooks and printed pamphlets to private correspondence, diaries, parliamentary journals, state papers and civic records. The second argument is that the open contestation of these ritual forms contributed to the formation of immanent conceptions of authority, understood as a social relation rather than an expression of an essential or transcendent order. This, in part, was reflected in the growing participation of common people in political processes as they increasingly came to conceive of their own agency as legitimate. It is also demonstrated in the political writings of the 1640s, and the thesis uses parliamentary speeches, philosophical writings, political manifestos and other printed polemic to uncover examples of how contemporaries, from Thomas Hobbes to Leveller radicals, conceptualised authority in light of the widespread emergence of popular political participation, without recourse to a divine or transcendent majesty.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Aesthetics and political authority in the English Revolution, 1642–49
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129394
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