Komediant och riksförrädare Handskriftcirkulerade smädeskrifter mot Gustaf III
Sammanfattning: The opposition against Gustavus III (1746–1792) had limited access to the printing press, but managed to spread a variety of political pamphlets through clandestine manuscripts. The main purpose of the dissertation is to analyse this communication and thereby enhance our understanding of the political culture of the period.The manuscript published oppositional works against Gustavus III have hitherto been little explored. With source material consisting of 120 manuscript libels, this study makes use of three interrelated methodological perspectives: media analysis, rhetorical analysis and analysis of ideas. The combination of media studies and classical rhetoric is inspired by the works of Peter Burke.Questions of production, distribution and consumption frame the discussions. The libels – published anonymously for fear of persecution – were spread through what Harold Love calls “user publication”. This means that many readers contributed to their distribution and through the act of copying also functioned as co-authors.The majority of the libels originated among the estate of the nobility and their political allies. The authors were often accomplished writers, skilfully using a variety of rhetorical strategies to interest and entertain their readers.When viewed in an international context, the Swedish material is revealed as relatively conservative. The arguments in the Swedish works were generally founded on established and traditional values and ideas, and treated Monarchy and Lutheran Christianity as given institutions which stood unquestioned. In comparison to French libels against royalty, Swedes were also more reluctant to use sexual slander. One explanation for this conservatism is that the authors were aiming for a wide audience, and therefore strove to ground their arguments in common values. Another explanation can be found in the fact that many of the works originated within the noble classes: a privileged group which had much to gain from the preservation of traditional social structures.
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