Tea Sets and Tyranny: The Politics of Politeness in Early America by Steven C. Bullock (2016)
Thursday, May 16, 10 a.m.
“Even as eighteenth-century thinkers from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson struggled to find effective means to restrain power, contemporary discussions of society gave increasing attention to ideals of refinement, moderation, and polished self-presentation. These two sets of ideas have long seemed separate, one dignified as political theory, the other primarily concerned with manners and material culture. Tea Sets and Tyranny challenges that division. In its original context, Steven C. Bullock suggests, politeness also raised important issues of power, leadership, and human relationships. This politics of politeness helped make opposition to overbearing power central to early American thought and practice. This division between public power and personal life continues to shape thinking about liberty so fully that it has been difficult to recognize its origins in the eighteenth-century politics of politeness.”