The conclusion summarizes key points about the crime of libel, working-class literacy, and social values, and then reflects on the purpose and ambitions of microhistories such as this one. Reconstructing in detail episodes in the lives of people who were sociologically unremarkable but underwent remarkable experiences, microhistories attempt to highlight unnoticed possibilities and previously unremarked kinds of agency. Cultural historians have sought to take ordinary people’s reading and writing seriously, leading to a more encompassing conception of culture: but this body of scholarship still confines its attention to engagement with recognized artistic forms and cultural products. The present book is an experiment in going further, apprehending agency in such unlikely places as handwriting or swearing.
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