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On Civility: The Model of Sparta in Montaigne's "Defence de Seneque et de Plutarque"

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This paper examines accounts of civilité that define subjecthood in late sixteenth-century France through an essay of Michel de Montaigne and Jean Bodin's theory of citizenship. Tied to the lives of ordinary citizen-subjects and influenced by legal theory, their views of civility focus on the art of governing and being governed during politically troubled times. As such, they raise questions of obedience, consent and conscience from contrasting perspectives, providing a counterweight to Norbert Elias's focus on courtly manners (Civilizing Process). Their contributions complicate Elias's insight that a redefinition of the emotions and manners was a moving force behind the new civilité, informing an ideology of absolutism and a national (aristocratic) identity.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 29, 2006


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