From humanism to the Reformation: Letters of recommendation in early modern Germany (1490--1560).
Kooistra, James Milton.
244 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2008.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 69-06, Section: A, page: .
This study offers a cultural and intellectual history of letters by humanists and reformers written to recommend candidates for positions in the schools, the clergy, or government service in early modern Germany. These letters were shaped by the educational, cultural, professional or doctrinal agendas of humanism and Protestantism. The thesis illuminates the triangular relationship among authors, those recommended, and the recipients of the letters. Particular emphasis is placed on the role friendship and kinship played in letters of recommendation, for the letters show that a deliberate and continuous attention to the fashioning and advertising of one's album amicorum , one's list of friends, was necessary in order to win powerful patrons among established intellectuals. In the first half of the sixteenth century, the reformation perturbed humanist patterns of personal and professional friendship, as creed and confession came to displace the bonae literae as the common ground amongst friends. This study also explores the rhetorical strategies by which humanists and reformers recommended neophyte scholars for positions in education, church or state. The words and phrases used in letter of recommendation not only provide a graphic depiction of the person of the recommended, but also reveal what their authors identified as the qualities of the ideal job candidate. The rhetoric of the letters changed over the period, as previous concerns for a proper humanist style became subsumed in more immediate concerns of confession, orthodoxy and public concord. The letters enhance our understanding of the job market for people with advanced education, of how people obtained positions, and of the grounds on which hiring decisions were made. Humanists and reformers wrote informal, personal recommendations that were intended just for their friends, but formal recommendations to a university senate, a nobleman or town council. Moreover, they promoted the scholarship of other scholars by writing prefaces to their proteges' publications, using strategies developed for letters of recommendation to recommend the works as well as the men.
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