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The material life of the household

In a theatre that self-consciously cultivated its audiences' imagination, how and what did playgoers ‘see’ on the stage? This book reconstructs one aspect of that imaginative process, considering a range of printed and documentary evidence for the way ordinary individuals thought about their houses and households. It then explores how writers of domestic tragedies engaged those attitudes to shape their representations of domesticity. The book therefore offers a way of understanding theatrical representations based around a truly interdisciplinary study of the interaction between literary and historical methods. The opening chapters use household manuals, court depositions, wills and inventories to reconstruct the morality of household space and its affective meanings, and to explore ways of imaging these spaces. Further chapters discuss Arden of Faversham, Two Lamentable Tragedies, A Woman Killed With Kindness and A Yorkshire Tragedy, considering how the dynamics of the early modern house were represented on the stage. They identify a grammar of domestic representation stretching from subtle identifications of location to stage properties and the use of stage space. Investigating the connections between the seen and the unseen, between secret and revelation, between inside and outside, household and community, these plays are shown to offer a uniquely developed domestic mimesis.

Author: Cathryn Spence

This text provides the first full-length consideration of women’s economic roles in early modern Scottish towns. Drawing on tens of thousands of cases entered into burgh court litigation between 1560 and 1640 in Edinburgh, Dundee, Haddington, and Linlithgow, Women, credit, and debt explores how Scottish women navigated their courts and their communities. This includes a consideration of the lifecycle stage of these women, and whether those active in litigation were wives, widows, or singlewomen. The employments and by-employments that brought these women to court, and the roles these women had in the economy, are also considered. In particular, this book explores the roles of women as merchants and merchandisers, producers and sellers of ale, landladies, moneylenders, and servants. Comparing the Scottish experience to that of England and Europe, Spence shows that through the latter half of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century women were conspicuously active in burgh court litigation and, by extension, were active and engaged participants in the early modern Scottish economy. This book reevaluates what we thought we knew about women in the early modern period. As such, it will be of particular interest to those studying and teaching Scottish social and economic history and valuable to anyone studying the history of work and gender. It will also appeal to all feminists who have an interest in how women negotiate economic roles.

Mark Robson

7 Mark Robson Defending poetry, or, is there an early modern aesthetic? Is there an early modern aesthetic? Or, better: What does one call the space currently occupied by aesthetics before aesthetics emerges? This question appears within the space occupied by what has become known in certain literary-critical circles as the early modern period, broadly defined as 1500–1700.1 Formulation of the idea of the early modern can be taken as an exemplary moment in the permeation of a ‘new’ historicism through literary studies since the early 1980s, most obviously

in The new aestheticism

This book explores the Spanish elite’s fixation on social and racial “passing” and “passers” as represented in a wide range of texts produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It examines literary and non-literary works that express the dominant Spaniards’ anxiety that socially mobile New Christians could impersonate and pass as versions of themselves. Current scholarship has implicitly postulated that the social energy that led to the massive marginalization of New Christians and/or lowborns from central social spaces, and the marginals’ attempts to hide their true identity, had its roots in the elite’s rejection of sociocultural and genealogical heterogeneity, or “difference.” Christina Lee makes a key intervention in this discussion by proposing that there was a parallel phenomenon at play that might have been as resounding as an anxiety roused by the presence of those who were clearly different, a phenomenon she calls “the anxiety of sameness.” Lee argues that while conspicuous religious and socio-cultural difference was certainly perturbing and unsettling, in some ways, it was not as threatening to the dominant Spanish identity as the potential discovery of the arbitrariness that separated them from the undesirables of society. Students and seasoned scholars of Spanish history and literature will not only benefit from Lee’s arguments about the elite’s attempt to deny the fluidity of early modern identity, but also gain from her fresh readings of the works of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Quevedo, as well as her analyses of lesser known works, such as joke books, treatises, genealogical catalogues, and documentary accounts.

John Walter

Chapter 5 . The social economy of dearth in early modern England* I T he impoverished repertory of English folk-tales lacks those stories – common in other early modern European societies – in which peasant culture confronts the dilemma of too many mouths to feed, and in which supernatural salvation so often took the form of a superabundance of food.1 This hitherto largely unnoticed absence of English Hansels and Gretels wandering through a Malthusian world takes on added meaning in the light of recent work on the demography of early modern England. This work

in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England
Frederika Bain

event: all have their parts to play and their emotions to convey. This chapter demonstrates the ways representations of affect – conventional and departing from convention – are used in early modern depictions of execution and murder for political arguments and to point to larger questions of rightful rule and tyranny. The usual relative lack of emotion, and the stylised nature

in The Renaissance of emotion
Tanya Pollard

role of Latin plays in shaping the period’s theatre. 1 Yet, in order to understand the development of its dramatic forms, we need to take seriously the period’s engagement with the Greek dramatic tradition in which these forms began, and with which they were persistently identified. Widely perceived by early modern writers as keys unlocking a previously inaccessible

in Formal matters
Silvia Bigliazzi

, had a choral performance indirectly linked to the tradition of the complaint. Interestingly, this unique example coalesces the classical and medieval traditions, conflating the genre of the ancient choral weeping for the dead and the liturgical, responsorial, psalmodic lamentation, in line with the dynamic system of ‘confluence’ of different traditions Bruce Smith demonstrated with regard to the early modern reception and appropriation of classical and medieval models. 4 It is especially interesting because it

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Sasha Handley

7 Sleep-piety and healthy sleep in early modern English households Sasha Handley Despise not the Rules for promoting Health and Temperance, the ways of God and Nature are plain and simple, but mighty in operation and effects, the Body is an Instrument to the Soul, and being out of tune no harmony can be expected in the microcosm.1 The merchant, campaigner for vegetarianism and author of popular lifestyle guides Thomas Tryon was convinced that a strict regimen of bodily discipline held the key to the long-term preservation of physical and spiritual health.2 He

in Conserving health in early modern culture
Martha McGill and Alasdair Raffe

For early modern Scots, the doctrine of providence – the claim that God actively governed his Creation – expressed basic truths about the universe. God was both creator and maintainer, legislator and executive. He defined the goal or end of human existence, while intervening in the daily lives of his creatures. He oversaw the affairs of princes and armies, and was also responsible for the most mundane of occurrences. As Scottish preachers reminded their congregations, Matthew’s gospel taught that even the most insignificant sparrow ‘shall not fall on the ground

in The supernatural in early modern Scotland