The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England by Jean E. Howard

By Jean E. Howard

The level and Social fight in Early smooth England is a ground-breaking research of a debatable interval of English literary, cultural, and political history.

In language that's either lucid and theoretically subtle, Jean Howard examines the social and cultural aspects of early sleek theatre. She seems to be on the ways that a few theatrical practices have been deemed misleading and unreliable, whereas others have been lent legitimacy through the powerful.

An intriguing and difficult paintings by way of one of many major writers within the box, The degree and Social clash in Early glossy England is necessary interpreting for an individual drawn to the period.


...concerned [here] with the discourse of theatricality, because it is deployed within the playscripts of the early glossy theater in England and within the recurrent assaults on that contested institution.
–Comparative Drama

Every playtext she examines, shape Shakespeare's comedies and histories and Jonson's Epicoene to much less commonplace ones.....reveals new and interesting points below her lens.
–Comparative Drama

...the book's genuine richness is within the interpretive details.....
–Comparative Drama

...she examines the cloth practices through which [those] performs have been produced to find how those may strengthen or subvert the ideological paintings of the scripts.
–Comparative Drama

The price of Howard's lucid and looking out strategy lies within the sharpness of her viewpoint and her simultaneous information of the irresolvable contradictions of literary and important texts..
–Seventeenth-Century News/Spring-Summer, 1996

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Extra resources for The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England

Example text

In regard to Northbrooke’s own blind spots, I want to begin with a consideration of the strongly iconoclastic strain in his tract. Like many antitheatricalists, North-brooke attacks the stage in part because it allures the senses, particularly the eye. It invites its spectators to love outward spectacles and turn aside from the inner illuminations of faith. Hearing sermons, rather than seeing plays, is what North-brooke’s old man proposes to his young companion. As Barish and others have pointed out, anti-Catholic and antitheatrical polemic converge in this period because in a strongly Protestant discourse such as Northbrooke’s, the theater, like the Catholic Church, is constructed as committing its patrons to the worship of hollow idols: outward signs, not inward essences, things of the flesh, not of the spirit (Barish 1981:161–6).

It is a double-edged practice—part of a hermeneutics of suspicion, certainly, in that it assumes texts, and reading of texts, serve unannounced and unrecognized political ends; but part, too, of an ameliorative project to interrupt those processes by which privileged cultural narratives are used simply to legitimate the common sense of dominant social groups. In thinking about the relationship of the early modern public stage to the circulation of ideology within Tudor and Stuart culture, I want to look at two plays, Thomas Dekker’s The Whore of Babylon and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, in both of which the representation of theatrical practices is a major motif.

In it parishioners are enjoined to remember their vocations “in as much as God hath appointed every man his degree and office, within the limits whereof it behoveth him to keep himself. 4 Excess in apparell offends not only God, but also the monarch. As the homily says, dress is now “so gorgeous, that neither Almightie God by his word can stay our proud curiousity in the same, neither yet godly and necessary laws, made by our princes, and oft THE STAGE AND SOCIAL STRUGGLE 33 repeated with the penalties, can bridle this detestable abuse, whereby both God is openly contemned, and the prince’s laws manifestly disobeyed, to the great peril of the realm” (258).

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