Caesarian power was a crucial context in the Renaissance, as rulers in Europe, Russia and Turkey all sought to appropriate Caesarian imagery and authority, but it has been surprisingly little explored in scholarship. In this study Lisa Hopkins explores the way in which the stories of the Caesars, and of the Julio-Claudians in particular, can be used to figure the stories of English rulers on the Renaissance stage. Analyzing plays by Shakespeare and a number of other playwrights of the period, she demonstrates how early modern English dramatists, using Roman modes of literary representation as cover, commented on the issues of the day and critiqued contemporary monarchs.
Drawing on entirely new evidence, The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics, and the Practical Spatial Arts 1580-1630 examines the history of English dramatic form and its relationship to the mathematics, technology, and early scientific thought during the Renaissance period. The book demonstrates how practical modes of thinking that were typical of the sixteenth century resulted in new genres of plays and a new vocabulary for problems of poetic representation. Inthe epistemological moment the book recovers, we find new ideas about form and language that would become central to Renaissance literary discourse; in this same moment, too, we find new ways of thinking about the relationship between theory and practice that are typical of modernity, new attitudes towardsspatial representation, and a new interest in both poetics and mathematics as distinctive ways of producing knowledge about the world. By emphasizing the importance of theatrical performance, the book engages with continuing debates over the cultural function of the early modern stage and with scholarship on the status of modern authorship. When we consider playwrights in relation to the theatre rather than the printed book, they appear less as 'authors' than as figures whose social positionand epistemological presuppositions were very similar to the craftsmen, surveyors, and engineers who began to flourish during the sixteenth century and whose mathematical knowledge made them increasingly sought after by men of wealth and power.
Shakespeare is a towering presence in English and indeed global culture. Yet considered alongside his contemporaries he was not an isolated phenomenon, but the product of a period of astonishing creative fertility. This was an age when new media - popular drama and print - were seized upon avidly and inventively by a generation of exceptionally talented writers. In her sparkling new book, Helen Hackett explores the historical contexts of English Renaissance drama by situating it in the wider history of ideas. She traces the origins of Renaissance theatre in communal religious drama, civic pageantry and court entertainment and vividly describes the playing conditions of Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses. Examining Marlowe, Shakespeare and Jonson in turn, the author assesses the distinctive contribution made by each playwright to the creation of English drama. She then turns to revenge tragedy, with its gothic poetry of sex and death; city comedy, domestic tragedy and tragicomedy; and gender and drama, with female roles played by boy actors in commercial playhouses while women participated in drama at court and elsewhere. The book places Renaissance drama in the exciting and vibrant cosmopolitanism of sixteenth-century London.
Offering new and theatrically informed readings of plays by a broad range of Renaissance dramatists - including Marlowe, Jonson, Marston, Webster, Middleton and Ford - this new book addresses the question of pleasure: both erotic pleasure as represented on stage and aesthetic pleasure as experienced by readers and spectators. Some of the issues raised (the distribution of pleasure by gender, the notion of consent) intersect with feminist reinterpretations of Renaissance culture.
The book considers the London theatrical culture which took shape in the 1570s and came to an end in 1642. Places emphasis on those plays that are readily available in modern editions and can sometimes to be seen in modern productions, including Shakespeare. Provides students with the historical, literary and theatrical contexts they need to make sense of Renaissance drama. Includes a series of short biographies of playwrights during this period. Features close analyses of more than 20 plays, each of which draws attention to what makes a particular play interesting and identifies relevant critical questions. Examines early modern drama in terms of its characteristic actions, such as cuckolding, flattering, swaggering, going mad, and rising from the dead.
This book offers a survey of how female and male characters in English Renaissance theatre participated and interacted in musical activities, both inside and outside the contemporary societal decorum. Wong’s analysis broadens our understanding of the general theatrical representation of music, or musical dramaturgy, and complicates the current discussion of musical portrayal and construction of gender during this period. Wong discusses dramaturgical meanings of music and its association with gender, love, and erotomania in Renaissance plays. The negotiation between the dichotomous qualities of the heavenly and the demonic finds extensive application in recent studies of music in early modern English plays. However, while ideological dualities identified in music in traditional Renaissance thinking may seem unequivocal, various musical representations of characters and situations in early modern drama would prove otherwise. Wong, building upon the conventional model of binarism, explores how playwrights created their musical characters and scenarios according to the received cultural use and perception of music, and, at the same time, experimented with the multivalent meanings and significance embodied in theatrical music.
The Bed-Trick in English Renaissance Drama provides the first detailed examination of this convention. While most critical discussions focus exclusively on Shakespeare's use of the bed-trick in Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well, this study, written from a feminist perspective and based on an analysis of more than two hundred and fifty plays, places the bed-trick in its historical and theatrical context in order to challenge widely held critical assumptions about its theatrical history on the English Renaissance stage. It has been considered a comic convention, a mere device to complicate and resolve a plot, or the convention by which unwary men are entrapped into marriage by scheming females. None of these assumptions has been tested against the evidence of the surviving plays from the period - an oversight that the present study seeks to remedy. After exploring the convention's use in nondramatic Renaissance literature and its emergence on the stage in the 1590s, Marliss Desens examines the sociological and psychological implications of the bed-trick in regard to matters of marriage, male fantasies, and overt violence, thereby decentering the patriarchal perspective from which the convention has traditionally been viewed. Critical discussions of this convention, the author argues, have been so dominated by androcentric values that critics, both male and female, have often - consciously or unconsciously - overlooked the violence inherent in the bed-trick. No critical discussions have ever identified rape as lying at the heart of the bed-trick even though the basic action of the bed-trick clearly shows that at least one partner is always physically and emotionally violated. While that partner may have chosen sexual involvement, he or she has not chosen it with the person unwittingly embraced in the dark. The bed-trick, by depicting betrayal on the most intimate level, forces us to examine some of our own views on gender, sexuality, and the amount of power any person, whether male or female, may acceptably exercise over another.
The Tower of London in English Renaissance Drama historicizes the Tower of London's evolving meanings in English culture alongside its representations in twenty-four English history plays, 1579-c.1634, by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and others. While Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I fashioned the Tower as a showplace of royal authority, magnificence, and entertainment, many playwrights of the time revealed the Tower's instability as a royal symbol and represented it, instead, as an emblem of opposition to the crown and as a bodily and spiritual icon of non-royal English identity.
This book constitutes a new direction for feminist studies in English Renaissance drama. While feminist scholars have long celebrated heroic females in comedies, many have overlooked female tragic heroism, reading it instead as evidence of pervasive misogyny on the part of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Displacing prevailing arguments of "victim feminism," the contributors to this volume engage a wide range of feminist theories, and argue that female protagonists in tragedies - Jocasta, Juliet, Cleopatra, Mariam, Webster's Duchess and White Devil, among others - are heroic in precisely the same ways as their more notorious masculine counterparts.