Doctor of Philosophy, KU Scholar Works:University of Kansas, April 15, (2011)
The subject of this dissertation is the life and career of Roger L’Estrange, who was a licenser of Books and Surveyor of the Press for Charles II, as well as a royalist pamphleteer. It seeks to answer the question of how conceptions of public and private changed in late seventeenth century England be examining the career of L’Estrange, which involved him in many of the major pamphlet campaigns of the Restoration period. It argues that there was no stable “public sphere” in seventeenth century England, one that clearly marked it off from a private sphere of domesticity. It argues that the classical notion of office, in which reciprocal obligation and duty were paramount, was the basic presupposition of public but also private life, and that the very ubiquity of ideals of office holding made it semantically impossible to distinguish a stable public realm from a private one. Furthermore, the dissertation also argues that the presupposition of officium not only provided the basis for understanding relationships between persons but also of individual identity in seventeenth century England.
It argues that L’Estrange saw his own identity in terms of the offices he performed, and that his individual identity was shaped by the antique notion of persona–of a mask that one wears, when performing a role–than to modern notions of individual identity. Lastly, it will argue that people in seventeenth century England still understood their world in terms of offices, but that changes in the way they understood office, visible in L’Estrange’s writings, helped prepare the way for the reception of more modern ideas about public and private spheres that would eventually come to fruition in the nineteenth century.