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Writing, politics, and culture in England, 1639– 89

Aesthetics of contingency provides an important reconsideration of seventeenth-century literature in light of new understandings of the English past. Emphasising the contingency of the political in revolutionary England and its extended aftermath, Matthew Augustine challenges prevailing literary histories plotted according to structural conflicts and teleological narrative. In their place, he offers an innovative account of imaginative and polemical writing, in an effort to view later seventeenth-century literature on its own terms: without certainty about the future, or indeed the recent past. In hewing to this premise, the familiar outline of the period – with red lines drawn at 1642, 1660, or 1688 – becomes suggestively blurred. For all of Milton’s prophetic gestures, for all of Dryden’s presumption to speak for, to epitomise his Age, writing from the later decades of the seventeenth century remained supremely responsive to uncertainty, to the tremors of civil conflict and to the enduring crises and contradictions of Stuart governance.

A study of major writings from the Personal Rule to the Glorious Revolution and beyond, this book also re-examines the material conditions of literature in this age. By carefully deciphering the multi-layered forces at work in acts of writing and reception, and with due consideration for the forms in which texts were cast, this book explores the complex nature of making meaning in and making meaning out of later Stuart England.

This volume considers transnational and intercultural aspects of early modern theatre, drama and performance. Its twelve chapters, loosely cosmographically grouped into West, North and South, compose a complex image of early modern theatre connections as a socially, economically, politically and culturally realised tissue of links, networks, influences and paths of exchange. With particular attention to itinerant performers, court festival, and the significant black, Muslim and Jewish impact, they combine disciplines and methods to place Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the wider context of early performance culture in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Czech and Italian speaking Europe. Their shared methodological approach examines transnational connections by linking abstract notions of wider theatre historical significance to concrete historical facts: archaeological findings, archival records, visual artefacts, and textual evidence. Crucial to the volume is this systematic yoking of theories with surviving historical evidence for the performative event – whether as material object, text, performative routine, theatregrams, rituals, festivities, genres, archival evidence or visual documentation. This approach enables it to explore the infinite variety of early modern performance culture by expanding the discourse, questioning the received canon, and rethinking the national restrictions of conventional maps to reveal a theatre that truly is without borders.

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The cultural impact of an Elizabethan courtier

This book approaches the rich and diverse figure of the earl by looking at a wealth of diverse visual and textual manifestations of Essex produced during the sixteenth century and up to the present day. It resituates his life and career within the richly diverse contours of his cultural and political milieu. Included in the discussion are not just those texts of which Essex is the subject, such as poems, portraits or films, but also those texts produced by Essex himself, including private letters, poems and entertainments. The book first offers important insights into the composition and ethos of the Essex circle. It then provides an important intervention in the debate about the relationship between Essex and the theatre and Essex and Shakespeare, considering his role as a patron of a company of players. The book also explains Essex's use of non-professional theatrical entertainments at court in 1595 to promote an agenda he had shared with Sidney by campaigning for an increased level of English involvement in international affairs. It deals with a frequently neglected entertainment called the device of the Indian Prince, referred to here as Seeing Love as it dramatises the story of the blind Indian prince. Finally, the book offers a detailed examination of Essex's relationship with another dangerously public discourse, 'politic history', by tracing the influence of a range of competing texts.

Sermons, poems, letters and Devotions
Author: Margret Fetzer

Ever since their rediscovery in the 1920s, John Donne's writings have been praised for their energy, vigour and drama – yet so far, no attempt has been made to approach and systematically define these major characteristics of his work. Drawing on J. L. Austin's speech act theory, this comparative reading of Donne's poetry and prose eschews questions of personal or religious sincerity, and instead recreates an image of Donne as a man of many performances. No matter if engaged in the writing of a sermon or a piece of erotic poetry, Donne placed enormous trust in what words could do. Questions as to how saying something may actually bring about that very thing, or how playing the part of someone else affects an actor's identity, are central to his oeuvre – and moreover, highly relevant in the cultural and theological contexts of the early modern period in general. Rather than his particular political or religious allegiances, Donne's preoccupation with linguistic performativity and theatrical efficaciousness is responsible for the dialogical involvedness of his sermons, the provocations of his worldly and divine poems, the aggressive patronage seeking of his letters, and the interpersonal engagement of his Devotions. In treating both canonical and lesser-known Donne texts, this book hopes to make a significant contribution not only to Donne criticism and research into early modern culture, but, by using concepts of performance and performativity as its major theoretical backdrop, it aims to establish an interdisciplinary link with the field of performance studies.

A context for The Faerie Queene

Edmund Spenser and the first readers of The Faerie Queene routinely heard their national concerns—epidemics, political plotting, recent Tudor history—discussed in biblical terms. This book samples contemporary sermons, homilies, and liturgies to demonstrate that religious rhetoric, with its routine use of biblical types (for Elizabeth, the Spanish threat, and Mary Stuart, among many others) trained Spenser’s original readers to understand The Faerie Queene’s allegorical method. Accordingly, the first three chapters orient the reader to allegorical and typological reading in biblical commentary, occasional liturgies, and sermons. This pulpit literature illuminates many episodes and characters within the poem, and subsequent chapters discuss some of these. For instance, the genealogies Guyon and Arthur discover in Book Two parallel sermon lists of Elizabeth’s kingly forebears as well as biblical commentary on the genealogies provided for Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Florimell’s adventures in Books Three and Four, like contemporary marriage sermons, develop an allegory of the superiority of marriage over the single state. Likewise, the preachers’ treatment of the Northern Rebellion and the threat posed by Mary Stuart show biblical typology in the service of nationalism, much as the allegory of Book Six finds a way to celebrate Elizabeth’s execution of her cousin. In these cases, as in the Souldan episode, Book Six’s analysis of courtesy, and the Mutability Cantos, Elizabethan religious rhetoric lends support to traditional readings of the poem, indicating that Spenser’s original readers probably found The Faerie Queene less conflicted and subversive than many do today.

Heather James

not the be-all and end-all of literary production. Historically speaking, it is a function that is engaged or galvanized when it serves larger social and political purposes and is left unmarked when it obstructs those purposes. 12 My present interests lie in the innovations that these commonplace books make in the politics of reading in the late Elizabethan period. The first

in Formal matters
Victor Skretkowicz

, Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights could confidently expect audiences to read ‘Thebes’ as a signifier of a forthcoming political allegory on usurpation, tyranny and heroic resistance. While Sidney’s work on Arcadia is compressed between 1577 and 1584, Shakespeare’s response to European erotic romance manifests itself over roughly twenty-five years

in European erotic romance
Syrithe Pugh

1 Intertextuality and allegory in Virgil’s Eclogues Servius and political allegory Virgil’s chief innovation in pastoral, it has long been recognized, is his introduction of contemporary political realities. Theocritus’ Idylls are varied in subject matter, sometimes set in a bustling city, sometimes speaking of or addressing contemporary rulers, sometimes miniaturizing heroic epic, but the group of idylls recognized in antiquity as ‘bucolic songs’ deal with herdsmen concerned mainly with singing and with love, in a world apparently sealed off from the events of

in Spenser and Virgil
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Victor Skretkowicz

representations of idealised behaviour, revealing a didactic purposefulness communicated on more than one level. Its examples of the fortitude and eloquence of heroic young women and men, overcoming the dangers of abandonment, or falling victim to outbursts of oppressive male emotions, exemplify resistance to political, social and familial oppression. And it associates political and

in European erotic romance
The heroic lives and afterlives of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Andrew Hiscock

clearly not have been unfamiliar to the elite society of Elizabethan England; and, as the narrative indicates, the dominant players in the political life of the realm were accustomed (like Elizabeth herself) to finding themselves in the company of deities and antique heroes when attending theatrical entertainments, viewing the visual arts, or indeed perusing reading matter petitioning for their patronage

in Essex