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Selling (through) politeness: advertising provincial shops in eighteenth-century England

Stobart, JV (2008) Selling (through) politeness: advertising provincial shops in eighteenth-century England. Cultural and Social History, 5 (2). pp. 309-328. ISSN 1478-0046

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Abstract

Drawing on a survey of newspaper advertisements and trade cards from the Midlands and north-west England, this article examines the ways in which eighteenth-century advertisements helped to spread notions of politeness. It argues that advertisements were structured by and drew upon the conventions, norms and language of politeness to sell goods and promote shops. At the same time they helped to reproduce and communicate these ideas to a wider public. This had both material and conceptual dimensions: advertisements sold ‘polite’ goods and a ‘polite’ lifestyle, but they were also representations of politeness, signifying its ideals to a burgeoning middle class.

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