Medieval afterlives

Transforming traditions in Shakespeare and early English drama

Daisy Black
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Katharine Goodland
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This book examines how the spatial, characterization, and staging traditions of early drama were transformed over time, as well as the inherent capability of the traditions themselves to transform space, audience, time, and belief. It presents ten new chapters by specialists in the field of early English drama. The collection, which includes an Afterword by Theresa Coletti, is unique in its focus on the dramaturgical and cultural traditions that shaped and were shaped by early English drama until the closing of the theatres in 1642. By framing its argument in terms of traditions, this collection moves beyond long-standing biases imposed by period categories, thereby addressing the continuities of early English drama that persisted in the face of cultural and religious change. Scholars still use the terms ‘medieval’ and ‘early modern’ to distinguish between theatrical practices before and after the onset of religious conflict and the emergence of professional playhouses in England. Yet this period division has obscured much of what was most vital and lasting in the drama of the age, and, most crucially, the things which survived, were transformed, or repurposed for active use in new contexts. Through examining connections and transformations, the chapters of this book seek to refine and deepen our understanding of the richness and singularity of early English drama beyond the period divide: its copiousness, versatility, and playfulness.

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