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1. Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony, solidarity (Cambridge 1989) 48-49. I am grateful to members of the English Research Seminars and the Postmodern Reading Group Seminars at Chichester for their comments on a draft of this paper, especially Keith Jenkins and Peter Brickley, Bran Nicol, Alison Macleod, Hugh Dunkerley, Jan Ainsley, Jon Small, Karin Stott, Jane Smart, and Glenda Ford.

2. ibid., 51.

3. These inferences may all be found, for example, in Keith Jenkins's article `Why bother with the past', Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory & Practice 1 (1997) 56-66, and correlate with the following quotations from that article: (1) `postmodernists know that the past has neither rhyme nor reason in it. That it is unfathomable, sublime, shapeless, formless. Consequently, post-modernists recognize that to give something formless, to give to something shapeless a shape, to give the non-storied the form of a narrative structure as if such a narrative corresponded to the structures of real stories … to do all these things is to realize that historiography … is … an aestheticizing practice' (62); (2) `Insofar as we have thought that there really is a history (a past) that has its own demands, then we have forgotten that we've merely been throwing our voice. As soon as you think about it, the idea of a historicized past existing independent of our variously present-day constitutive concerns is an absurd one' (61); (3) `The historicized past itself thus contains nothing independent of us that we have to be loyal to … no facts we have to respect' (64); (4) `the past as such doesn't exist historically outside of historians' textual constitutive appropriations, consequently, being constructed by them it has no independence to resist them at an aesthetic "level of signification"' (64); (5) `And whilst we suspect that there may well be a "real past" (an actual past) metaphorically underlying all our disparate versions of it, we "know" that that past, that "real referent", is ultimately inaccessible, and that all we have are our versions … but that hardly matters, since versions are all we've ever had' (61); (6) `language is anterior to the world it shapes; … reality is a linguistic construct' (59); (7) `historiography per se now appears to be just one more foundationless positioned expression in a world of foundationless positioned expressions as we collapse the "referent into representation"' (61); (8) `because today there are so many explicit, competing notions of good with no neutral (foundational) criteria for adjudication between them, so not only does the ultimate closure of "the good" become endlessly deferred, but the idea of what constitutes a "good historical consciousness", or indeed a "good history", is similarly affected: we now have no clear sense of what a "good historical conciousness" is' (62); (9) `Postmodernism therefore does, I think, signal the end of history as modernists have construed it' (65); (10) `we can never get out of this subject-object/object-subject reversal into a higher resolution or synthesis whereby we can ever really sort out and thus know what we had made of the past/history and what the past/history (us) had made of us' (66, n. 2).

4. See John R. Searle, `Literary theory and its discontents', New Literary History, 1994, 25: 637-67, esp. 637-38.

5. Mark Poster, `Postmodernity and the politics of multiculturalism: the Lyotard-Habermas debate over social theory', Modern Fiction Studies, 38 (1992) 567-80.

6. ibid., 568.

7. Cited in Richard J. Bernstein's introduction to Habermas and Modernity (Oxford 1985) 25. I owe several of the points in the passage leading up to this quotation to Bernstein's introduction.

8. Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition (Manchester 1988) 23.

9. Richard Rorty, `Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity' in Bernstein, Habermas and Modernity, 170.

10. Rorty, Contingency, 61-69.

11. Jürgen Habermas, `Questions and counterquestions', in Bernstein, Habermas and Modernity, 192-216; quotation from 194.

12. Rorty, Contingency, 73. Rorty (61) characterizes Habermas as `a liberal who is unwilling to be an ironist'.

13. Donald Davidson, Inquiries into truth and interpretation (Oxford 1984); see also Jonathan Harrison's `The Trouble with Tarski', The Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1998) 190 for a lively critique of T-sentence logic. For a wider perspective on Davidson, see Reed Way Dasenbrock (ed), Literary theory after Davidson (University Park, PA 1993).

14. Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism: examining the politics of recognition, introduction by Amy Gutmann with critical commentary by K. Anthony Appiah, Jürgen Habermas, Stephen C. Rockerfeller, Michael Walzer and Susan Wolf (Princeton 1994).

15. W. V. Quine, `Ontological relativity', in Quine (ed) Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York 1969).

16. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, 77-79.

17. Cited in John B. Thompson, Critical Hermeneutics: a study in the thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas (Cambridge 1981) 99.

18. Charles Taylor, `What is human agency?', in Human Agency and Language: Philosophical Papers, 1 (1985) 29-33.

19. Gutmann in Taylor et al., Multiculturalism, 8.

20. Habermas in ibid., 110.

21. Lyotard in Florian Rotzer, Conversations with French philosophers, (Atlantic Highlands, NJ 1995) 77, translated by Gary E. Aylesworth.

22. Habermas, in Taylor et al., Multiculturalism, 135. The politics of equality is precisely the question at stake in a debate between Judith Butler and Ernesto Laclau in `The Uses of Equality', Diacritics 27 (1997) 3-13; `Further Reflections on Conversations of our Time', ibid., 13-17 and `Converging on an Open Quest', idib., 17-20.

23. K. Anthony Appiah, `Identity, authenticity, survival: multicultural societies and social reproduction', in Taylor et al., Multiculturalism, 163.

24. All quotations are from Jonathan Dollimore, `Transgression and surveillance in Measure For Measure and `Shakespeare understudies: the sodomite, the prostitute, the transvestite and their critics', in Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (ed), Political Shakespeare: new essays in cultural materialism (Manchester and New York 1994) 72-88 and 129-52. Quotations are from 86, 136.

25. Ruth Karras, 'The Regulation of brothels in late medieval England', in Signs, 14, 21 (1989) 399-433 and Common women: prostitution and sexuality in medieval England (Oxford and New York 1996). Lyndal Roper, 'Discipline and respectability: prostitution and the Reformation in Augburg', in History Workshop, 19 (1985) 3-28. Martin Ingram, Church courts, sex and marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge 1987). Ian W. Archer, The pursuit of stability: social relations in Elizabethan London (Cambridge 1991). Paul Griffiths, 'The structure of prostitution in Elizabethan London', in Continuity and Change 8 (1993) 39-63, and Youth and authority: formative experiences in England, 1560-1640 (Oxford 1996). Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: women, words, and sex in early modern London (Oxford 1996). See also J. L. McMullan, The Canting Crew: London's criminal underworld, 1550-1700 (New Brunswick 1984). Leah Lydia Otis, Prostitution in medieval society: the history of an urban institution in Languedoc (Chicago and London 1985). P. P. A. Biller, 'Marriage patterns and women's lives: a sketch of pastoral geography', in P. J. P. Goldberg (ed), Women in medieval English society (Stroud 1997) 60-107.

26. See especially Archer, The pursuit of stability and Griffiths, 'The structure of prostitution' and Youth and authority.

27. For the text of the Bridewell charter, see Gordon A. Humphreys, Goodly heritage: a history of King Edward's School, Witley 1553-1953 (Witley 1953).

28. Bridewell Court Minute Book, 1598-1604, Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum, Beckenham, Kent, f 23r (Tuesday, 30 May 1598).

29. William C. Carroll, Fat king, lean beggar: representations of poverty in the age of Shakespeare (Ithaca and London 1996) 114. Carroll gathers an extensive range of contemporary references to both the Bedlam and Bridewell institutions for this period in Chap. 3, pp. 97-124.

30. Bridewell Court Minute Book, 1598-1604, f 26r (Wednesday ,June 21 1598).

31. Bridewell Court Minute Book, 1598-1604, f 28v (Wednesday, 19 July 1598).

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