Governmental Arts in Early Tudor England
Governmental Arts in Early Tudor England studies the representational strategies through which government and dissent were performed during the English 1530s. Mary Polito argues that the reign of Henry VIII saw the emergence of new forms of secular government. Through innovative legislation, the dissemination of propaganda and conduct literature, the appropriation of ecclesiastical and pastoral modes of rule and new and sometimes spectacular rituals of statecraft, this monarch and his counsellors worked on the intimate territories of conscience, desire and speech, as intention, sexual practises and verbal performatives were brought into the domain of public discourse and the juridical sphere. The book suggests that the conundrum of government was its assumption that its objects of government were 'sovereign' enough to deploy the kinds of self-temperance and circumspection required for the security of the realm. The same subject, however, governors understood and feared, would be deep and complex enough to alienate intention from action and, in the interest of liberty, to 'perform' as another if necessary. Tudor governmentality's notion of the self-conscious, self-divided, free subject/actor is therefore both the condition for, and the limit of, a pre-liberal form of government.
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