Tricia A. McElroy

in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199565757
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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This chapter examines the uses and meanings of literary genre in the Chronicles. Holinshed, Thynne, and their fellow collaborators rely on various genres – such as epitaphs, letters, ballads, proverbs, and speeches – to provide evidence for past events, to boost their credibility, and to augment the narrative. The chapter demonstrates how genres can guide or coerce a specific reading – masking political content, encouraging our sympathies, inviting us to deliberate, and performing any number of other operations. It begins with romance and idealizing literary traditions, and moves on to examine a variety of embedded genres, before arriving at popular forms. This path is intentional, moving from examples of genre's power to fulfil our expectations or disrupt our assumptions, towards genres that appeal overtly to popular wisdom and make common interpretation a political argument of its own.

Keywords: literary genres; Chronicles; epitaphs; letters; proverbs; speeches; historical writing

Article.  8536 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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