• Ágnes MATUSKA University of Szeged, Faculty of Arts, Institute of English and American Studies, Department of English Studies, Szeged, Hungary
Keywords: cultural registers, popular culture, elite culture, early modern England


Part of an ongoing project of writing the history of English literature from a Hungarian perspective (Az angol irodalom magyar története, ed. Kállay Géza et al.), the paper serves as the introductory, theoretical part of the chapter dealing with Early Modern Cultural Registers. It suggests that the popular vs. elite dichotomy does not apply to early modern England. Presupposing two distinct social layers with respectively characteristic cultural practices does not do justice to an era that is defined by the dynamic formation of new social groups and strata, with permeable boundaries. It is crucial though, that the new elite defined itself as distinct from what it termed – and thus also created as – popular culture. The essay presents diverse interpretations and dilemmas related to the term popular, it deals with the role played by religion and reformation, the dynamics of written vs. oral culture, as well as the relationship between dominant power and the potentially subversive participants of popular culture.


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