In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the Inns of Court and fashionable London taverns developed a culture of clubbing, urban sociability and wit. The convivial societies that emerged created rituals to define social identities and to engage in literary play and political discussion. Michelle O'Callaghan argues that the lawyer-wits, including John Hoskyns, in company with authors such as John Donne, Ben Jonson and Thomas Coryate, consciously reinvigorated humanist traditions of learned play. Their experiments with burlesque, banquet literature, parody and satire resulted in a volatile yet creative dialogue between civility and licence, and between pleasure and the violence of scurrilous words. The wits inaugurated a mode of literary fellowship that shaped the history and literature of sociability in the seventeenth century. This study will provide many new insights for historians and literary scholars of the period.
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