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St. Mary the Virgin and the Birth of the Public Sphere

Debora Shuger
Huntington Library Quarterly
Vol. 72, No. 3 (September 2009), pp. 313-346
DOI: 10.1525/hlq.2009.72.3.313
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/hlq.2009.72.3.313
Page Count: 34
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St. Mary the Virgin and the Birth of the Public Sphere
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Abstract

This article considers the significance of the disputation in Elizabethan universities, a genre that has been ignored because it was rarely recorded and was in spoken Latin. Shuger outlines the occasions and format of disputations, which were prerequisites for most university degrees, and describes some common topics. Surprisingly, many of the politico-religious positions argued were controversial or heterodox. Shuger asks why such debates were tolerated, concluding that they were a nascent public sphere, which required the “mask” of formal debate roles because disputants could not argue heterodox positions in their own persons.

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