A key function of political drama of the turn of the seventeenth century was in helping large audiences understand what politics was. Attention to its role in the dissemination of political knowledge in early modern England, and the recognition of that knowledge as a form of cultural capital, forces us to revise the familiar narratives about the emergence of the public sphere. Reading scenes from Twelfth Night, Alphonsus Emperor of Germanie, and Jack Drum’s Entertainment, the Introduction makes a case for combining Pierre Bourdieu’s analytic of cultural capital with Jürgen Habermas’s account of the public sphere, and for recognizing the role of political knowledge in the creation of a politic style, whose aesthetic was not literary, but social and conversational.
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