that is acceptable to Erasmus is not simply the ingratiation that con forms to

That is acceptable to erasmus is not simply the

This preview shows page 82 - 84 out of 233 pages.

that is acceptable to Erasmus is not simply the ingratiation that con- forms to an idealized model of equal communication; the further feature that makes ‘‘ attery’’ of a kind acceptable is its important role in speech-act mitigation. This second requirement can help us to account for the oddity Dalzell has noted: if Erasmus dislikes attering greetings but accepts certain forms of ingratiation in the body of a letter, it may be because the body of the letter is where its business is transacted in risk- fi lled speech-acts requiring mitigation and repair. Erasmus encourages schoolmasters and pupils alike to conceive of friendships and same-sex intimacies as performative and strategic: spe- ci fi c forms of a ff ection are produced and maintained through writing letters, and their accents vary with the business at hand in the letter because they are transparently deployed to facilitate that business. It is fascinating to observe to what extent these elaborate written intimacies take shape, by no means as expressions of bodily desire or sexual longing (though they may potentially produce such a ff ects), but instead within a dynamic of rebuke and repair, as disciplinary techniques to frame the dedicated scholar. Consider how the copious instructions for mitigating ‘‘the harshness of criticism with praise’’ systematically deploy the key strategies of positive politeness – including claiming common ground, conveying that speaker and hearer are cooperators, and ful fi lling some want of the hearer – to shape an intrusive but sustainable pedagogic relation: We shall say that since he has many outstanding qualities, we cannot su ff er so many virtues to be darkened by the blemish of a single fault or allow for any reservations in the praise of such a good friend. Next we shall make light of the fault itself, either blaming his age of indiscretion, or showing that it has been found even in the greatest of men, or that, while it certainly needs correction, it springs from his generosity or some other virtue and can be corrected without much di culty. We shall say that we write in this way out of special a ff ection for him, and would not do the same for others. (  ) Here Erasmus delineates what are familiar pedagogical methods even today for negotiating criticism by separating one’s estimation of the fault from one’s estimation of the person, although the e ff usiveness of the reparative a ff ection, most evident here in the claim to exclusivity, would  Eloquent relations in letters
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usually be restricted in modern pedagogical discourse to relations with children. To identify Erasmus’s rhetorical strategies as positive politeness is not to capture completely their distinctive in ection, an in ection evident in his ‘‘own collection’’ of materials for making di cult requests: ‘I would seem quite shameless to importune you in the midst of your a ff airs with
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