This dissertation analyzes the textual and argumentative strategies used to debate the meaning of the past in an attempt to influence the present and future in seventeenth-century British polemic. I focus on two pamphlet wars occurring between 1678 and 1685. The first concerned whether bishops had the right to participate in the trial of one of Charles II's most important ministers. The second arose between a Scottish lawyer and two English clerics when one of the Englishmen tried to debunk the traditional Scottish narrative that their kingdom and royal dynasty had been founded in 330 B.C. I draw upon the well-developed scholarly literature on political and religious ideology for this time period to help explain the conceptual vocabulary used in the arguments and the political theory underlying those ideas. I expand the analysis through a more explicit attention to how writers used histories of certain important institutions to define ideological positions. The role of historical narratives about institutions is an important element of ideological argument, which allows me to develop insights about the role of the past in how a society defined itself and tried to solve its problems. Specific examples were in how discourses appealed to national myths, defended entrenched institutional interests in a tightly woven social fabric, or defined the interaction between religion and politics.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2014. Major: History. Advisor: Anna Clark. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 326 pages.
Clashing Legacies: Narratives of Continuity and Rupture in Restoration Britain's Ideological Constructions of the Past.
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