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“A pattern, precedent, and lively warrant”: Emulation, Rhetoric, and Cruel Propriety in Titus Andronicus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Vernon Guy Dickson
Florida International University


Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus critically engages and enacts teachings and patterns of emulation, including those of Quintilian, Roger Ascham, and other contemporary humanists and playwrights, pressing emulation's uses to extremes that suggest that imitative self-fashioning potentially results in monstrous or fragmented characters, decisions, and texts. The professed aim of the grammar-school education, the ability to judge well, is conflicted by Titus's exposure of judgment as itself a contested concept, locked within a circularity of intertextual precedents. Titus's excessive, even parodic, repetition of emulative strategies acts as a rebuttal of seemingly straightforward humanist models of character, judgment, self, and decorum.

Research Article
Copyright © 2009 Renaissance Society of America

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“A pattern, precedent, and lively warrant”: Emulation, Rhetoric, and Cruel Propriety in Titus Andronicus
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