Erasmus sets however a more long lasting stan dard for those he addresses

Erasmus sets however a more long lasting stan dard

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‘‘written knowledge.’’ Erasmus sets, however, a more long-lasting stan- dard for those he addresses directly in his handbook – for teachers and schoolmasters. Their professional language, to this day, foregrounds interpersonal exchange, including the speech acts of encouragement and criticism so important in Erasmus. The language of pedagogy remains a language marked by strategic presumption. Very often it is also a language that conceals power relations – speech that only equivo- cally claims to be ‘‘shared in common,’’ gaining thereby the ‘‘double pro fi t’’ for the speaker both of the acknowledgment of superior place and the appearance of freedom from considerations of place. ²²   :    Whereas Erasmus’s letter manual o ff ers readers both the equipment to replicate and the equipment to critique and alter existing social rela- tions, Angel Day, in The English Secretary , provides no social criticism or program for systemic change. Instead, like the Renaissance courtesy books Frank Whigham examines in Ambition and Privilege , The English Secretary promotes social maintenance and reproduction, while at the same time making room for individual mobility. Whigham argues that the courtesy books provided readers with ‘‘equipment for living,’’ but equipment that could be put to opposite uses by di ff erent social groups. For the ruling elite, the articulations of aristocratic and gentlemanly behavioral repertoires could preserve and mystify social di ff erences. Nonetheless, in presenting these behavioral competences as rule-gov- erned, the courtesy manuals also o ff ered talented people aspiring to higher station skills they could acquire to facilitate their advancement. ²³  Eloquent relations in letters
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Angel Day’s letter-writing handbook has this double agenda. On the one hand, Day presents an interactional rhetoric inscribing social dis- criminations in subtler ways than the highly status-conscious handbooks of the medieval ars dictaminis . By promoting this rhetoric that reinforces the place of the superior, even in the invisible grain of the language, Day might hope to please noblemen like the Earl of Oxford, to whom he dedicates his book. For his less exalted readers, Day o ff ers the skills requisite to write and speak like the Earl of Oxford and lesser gentle- men, or – perhaps more important – the skills to write to or speak with those of importance. The dedicatory letter to the readers shows that Day is conscious of a double constituency for his work. He promotes the book both for those already skilled in the ‘‘well ordering and deliuerie’’ of ‘‘our daylie speech’’ (pt. II, p.  ) and for those aspiring to communi- cation skills, ‘‘to the end that they who . . . haue heretofore vnknowing done well, may see how with skill and discretion hereafter to pursue the same, & the ignorant also hereof whose reach hath not been so ample as
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