The Representations of Millers, Tailors, and Weavers in Popular Print, c. 1500 to c. 1700
Taylor, Edward Paul
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis presents a method for identifying resonant cultural phenomena and uses it to identify themes in the representations of millers, tailors, and weavers in early modern English proverbs, jests, and ballads. It then examines whether these stereotypes appear in the records of defamation and abusive language from four different contemporary courts. It argues that all three trades were associated with habitual occupational dishonesty, that millers had a reputation for super-sexuality, and that tailors were considered to be poor and inferior to other men. However, it also argues that these stereotypes were conditioned by generic characteristics of proverbs, jests, and ballads and therefore that stereotypes should be assessed within and across different media. Finally, it argues that the dishonesty, super-sexuality, and inferiority associated with millers, tailors, and weavers suggest that perceived moral character played a more important role in the creation of stereotypes than perceived economic or social position, political or religious allegiance, or ethnic or regional background.
ESRC South West Doctoral Training Centre
PhD in History