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Finch’s chapter argues that the rhetorical artifice in Wallace Stevens’s poetry may be best understood through the concept of manner. In contrast with style, which focuses on the personal signature of a writer’s work, manner refers to the more social, public aspects of a writer’s rhetorical bearing. Drawing on a range of critics who have theorized aesthetic manner and the politics of manners, including Pierre Bourdieu, Giorgio Agamben, Henry James, and Lionel Trilling, this chapter proposes that Stevens’s interest in textiles and clothing, in figurations of nobility, and in the mannerist syntax of repetition are not just neutral aesthetic traits but expressions of a sensibility tied to social categories that include class and race. After examining these intersections in poems spanning Stevens’s career, Finch closes by suggesting that the most meaningful approaches to Stevens’s formal prosody should remain attentive to the social posture and cultural tones of his language.
Whereas Dr Burney's writings are often mentioned in studies on eighteenth-century music, not much interest seems to have been given specifically to his relation to the organ, which played an important part in his professional career as a practising musician. No better introduction to the aesthetic ethos of the eighteenth-century English organ can be found than in Burney's remarks disseminated in his various writings. Taken together, they construct a coherent discourse on taste and constitute an aesthetic. Burney's view of the organ is indicative of a broader ethos of moderation that permeates his whole work, and is at one with the dominant moral philosophy of Georgian England. This conception is ripe with patriotic undertones, while it also articulates a constant plea for politeness as a condition for harmonious social interaction. He believed that moderation, simplicity, and fancy were the constituents of good taste as well as good manners.
This chapter introduces the history of manners in Thailand, linking it to the sociological concept of habitus or 'second nature': how historical experience leaves its imprint on the way people speak, act, and think. It surveys the sociological literature about habitus, discussing in particular detail the work of Norbert Elias, including his famous study of the history of manners in Western Europe, The Civilizing Process. The chapter argues that Elias’s concept of a civilizing process may be adapted to the Thai context to better understand how manners in Thailand have evolved. It proposes that the history of manners in Thailand may be divided into four periods: the age of colonialism and absolutism (the second half of the nineteenth century); the age of revolution (the first half of the twentieth century); the age of reaction (the post-World War II period); and the age of democracy and development (since roughly the 1970s). The chapter also discusses the related concepts of civility and civilization.
Chapter 12 includes the deeper normative arguments of Burke’s economic theory that come alive in the Reflections. Burke argued that among the real rights of men were the right to industry and the right to acquisition. He further contended that abstract theory overlooked the complexity of circumstance in social life, and that rigid government edicts intended to establish equality in civil society bred social chaos. Social engineering crushed the human soul. More important, I discuss Burke’s emphasis on the limits of transactional exchange in sustaining the growth of civilization. In his view, contracts could produce commercial opulence, but civilizations required pre-transactional bonds of religion, friendship, and manners in order to endure. Man’s moral obligations thus preceded the requirements of voluntary contracts; civilization might persist without commercial vitality, but it could not survive without virtue and chivalry. I also examine Burke’s commentary in Third Letter on a Regicide Peace, in which he provides remarks on the healthy state of the English economy, an Invisible Hand-type phenomenon, and the virtues of limited government, all of which complement his thoughts in Thoughts and Details and the Reflections.
The final chapter of this book presents the analyses and case studies of the previous chapters in a more coherent narrative that focuses on long-term developments rather than the individual details at specific points in the history of English. It draws together the various influences that were responsible for some of the changes, and discusses the question of the point in history when a concern for good breeding and moral behaviour turned into a concern for superficial manners and outward appearance. Today, politeness often has a bad press because it is seen as insincere and hypocritical. But not all commentators have a negative view of present-day politeness: it can be seen as a sincere concern for rapport with the addressee.
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