The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350–1642

The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350–1642

John Cox tells the intriguing story of stage devils from their earliest appearance in English plays to the closing of the theatres by parliamentary order in 1642. The book represents a major revision of E. K. Chambers' ideas of stage devils in The Medieval Stage (1903), arguing that this is not a history of gradual secularization, as scholarship has maintained for the last century, but rather that stage devils were profoundly shaped from the outset by the assumptions of sacred drama and retained this shape virtually unchanged until the advent of permanent commercial theatres near London. The book spans both medieval and Renaissance drama including the medieval Mystery cycles on the one hand, through to plays by Greene, Marlowe, Shakespeare (1 and 2 Henry VI), Jonson, Middleton and Davenant. An appendix lists all known devil plays in English from the beginning to 1642.

Performances of the Sacred in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

Performances of the Sacred in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

Communities have often shaped themselves around cultural spaces set apart and declared sacred. For this purpose, churches, priests or scholars no less than writers frequently participate in giving sacred figures a local habitation and, sometimes, voice or name. But whatever sites, rites, images or narratives have thus been constructed, they also raise some complex questions: how can the sacred be presented and yet guarded, claimed yet concealed, staged in public and at the same time kept exclusive?Such questions are pursued here in a variety of English texts historically employed to manifest and manage versions of the sacred. But since their performances inhabit social space, this often functions as a theatrical arena which is also used to stage modes of dissent, difference, sacrifice and sacrilege. In this way, all aspects of social life – the family, the nation, the idea of kingship, gender identities, courtly ideals, love making or smoking – may become sacralized and buttress claims for power by recourse to a repertoire of religious symbolic forms.Through critical readings of central texts and authors – such asSir Gawain, Foxe, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, or Vaughan – as well as less canonical examples – the Croxton play, Buchanan, Lanyer, Wroth, or the tobacco pamphlets – the twelve contributions all engage with the crucial question how, and to what end, performances of the sacred affect, or effect, cultural transformation.

The End of Satisfaction

Drama and Repentance in the Age of Shakespeare

The End of Satisfaction

In The End of Satisfaction, Heather Hirschfeld recovers the historical specificity and the conceptual vigor of the term "satisfaction" during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Focusing on the term’s significance as an organizing principle of Christian repentance, she examines the ways in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries dramatized the consequences of its re- or de-valuation in the process of Reformation doctrinal change. The Protestant theology of repentance, Hirschfeld suggests, underwrote a variety of theatrical plots "to set things right" in a world shorn of the prospect of "making enough" (satisfacere). Hirschfeld’s semantic history traces today’s use of "satisfaction"—as an unexamined measure of inward gratification rather than a finely nuanced standard of relational exchange—to the pressures on legal, economic, and marital discourses wrought by the Protestant rejection of the Catholic sacrament of penance (contrition, confession, satisfaction) and represented imaginatively on the stage. In so doing, it offers fresh readings of the penitential economies of canonical plays including Dr. Faustus, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello; considers the doctrinal and generic importance of lesser-known plays including Enough Is as Good as a Feast and Love’s Pilgrimage; and opens new avenues into the study of literature and repentance in early modern England.

Shakespeare's Medieval Craft

Remnants of the Mysteries on the London Stage

Shakespeare's Medieval Craft

In Shakespeare’s Medieval Craft, Kurt A. Schreyer explores the relationship between Shakespeare’s plays and a tradition of late medieval English biblical drama known as mystery plays. Scholars of English theater have long debated Shakespeare’s connection to the mystery play tradition, but Schreyer provides new perspective on the subject by focusing on the Chester Banns, a sixteenth-century proclamation announcing the annual performance of that city’s cycle of mystery plays. Through close study of the Banns, Schreyer demonstrates the central importance of medieval stage objects—as vital and direct agents and not merely as precursors—to the Shakespearean stage. As Schreyer shows, the Chester Banns serve as a paradigm for how Shakespeare’s theater might have reflected on and incorporated the mystery play tradition, yet distinguished itself from it. For instance, he demonstrates that certain material features of Shakespeare’s stage—including the ass’s head of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the theatrical space of Purgatory in Hamlet, and the knocking at the gate in the Porter scene of Macbeth—were in fact remnants of the earlier mysteries transformed to meet the exigencies of the commercial London playhouses. Schreyer argues that the ongoing agency of supposedly superseded theatrical objects and practices reveal how the mystery plays shaped dramatic production long after their demise. At the same time, these medieval traditions help to reposition Shakespeare as more than a writer of plays; he was a play-wright, a dramatic artisan who forged new theatrical works by fitting poetry to the material remnants of an older dramatic tradition.

Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare's Theatre

The Early Modern Body-Mind

Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare's Theatre

This collection considers issues that have emerged in Early Modern Studies in the past fifteen years relating to understandings of mind and body in Shakespeare’s world. Informed by The Body in Parts, the essays in this book respond also to the notion of an early modern ‘body-mind’ in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries are understood in terms of bodily parts and cognitive processes. What might the impact of such understandings be on our picture of Shakespeare’s theatre or on our histories of the early modern period, broadly speaking? This book provides a wide range of approaches to this challenge, covering histories of cognition, studies of early modern stage practices, textual studies, and historical phenomenology, as well as new cultural histories by some of the key proponents of this approach at the present time. Because of the breadth of material covered, full weight is given to issues that are hotly debated at the present time within Shakespeare Studies: presentist scholarship is presented alongside more historically-focused studies, for example, and phenomenological studies of material culture are included along with close readings of texts. What the contributors have in common is a refusal to read the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries either psychologically or materially; instead, these essays address a willingness to study early modern phenomena (like the Elizabethan stage) as manifesting an early modern belief in the embodiment of cognition.

'Hamlet' Without Hamlet

'Hamlet' Without Hamlet

A study tracing the impact and evolution of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Marlowe’s Literary Scepticism

Politic Religion and Post-Reformation Polemic

Marlowe’s Literary Scepticism

Winner of the Roma Gill Prize 2015, Marlowe's Literary Scepticism re-evaluates the representation of religion in Christopher Marlowe's plays and poems, demonstrating the extent to which his literary engagement with questions of belief was shaped by the virulent polemical debates that raged in post-Reformation Europe. Offering new readings of under-studied works such as the poetic translations and a fresh perspective on well-known plays such as Doctor Faustus, this book focuses on Marlowe's depiction of the religious frauds denounced by his contemporaries. It identifies Marlowe as one of the earliest writers to acknowledge the practical value of religious hypocrisy, and a pivotal figure in the history of scepticism.

Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics

Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics

Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics examines representations of moral choice in Shakespeare's plays, focusing on intellectual history, Montaigne, and Christian ethics.

Shakespeare Survey: Volume 66, Working with Shakespeare

Shakespeare Survey: Volume 66, Working with Shakespeare

Shakespeare Survey is a yearbook of Shakespeare studies and production. Since 1948, the Survey has published the best international scholarship in English and many of its essays have become classics of Shakespeare criticism. Each volume is devoted to a theme, or play, or group of plays; each also contains a section of reviews of that year's textual and critical studies and of the year's major British performances. The theme for Volume 66 is 'Working with Shakespeare', and Tiffany Stern's essay has been selected by the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society for its Barbara Palmer/Martin Stevens award for best new essay in early drama studies, 2014. The complete set of Survey volumes is also available online at http://www.cambridge.org/online/shakespearesurvey. This fully searchable resource enables users to browse by author, essay and volume, search by play, theme and topic and save and bookmark their results.