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Lawyers at PlayLiterature, Law, and Politics at the Early Modern Inns of Court, 1558-1581$
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Jessica Winston

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769422.001.0001

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An Intellectual Topography of the Early Modern Inns of Court

An Intellectual Topography of the Early Modern Inns of Court

(p.23) 1 An Intellectual Topography of the Early Modern Inns of Court
Lawyers at Play

Jessica Winston

Oxford University Press

Taking Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ as a key term, this chapter introduces the early modern Inns of Court, examining tensions between the multifaceted and multigenerational aspects of the Inns on the one hand, and their more coherent institutional culture on the other. Looking at legal education and other topics, such as religious nonconformism, the chapter argues that the Inns were dynamic institutions and changed over the period; nevertheless, the existence of a sense of shared culture is a constant. At moments of legal change, the nature and characteristics of this culture were reshaped. The literary culture of the Inns helped to promote and shape broader intellectual and communal life at the societies. In decades of significant political and legal transformation, literary production intensified, helping to define and reinforce communal and institutional identity, or to challenge and remake it.

Keywords:   Inns of Court, institutional culture, Pierre Bourdieu, habitus, intellectual life, legal education, religious nonconformism, communal identity

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