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This book studies the mother figure in English drama from the mid-sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. It explores a range of genres from popular mystery and moral plays to drama written for the court and universities and for the commercial theatres, including history plays, comedies, tragedies, romances and melodrama. Familiar and less-known plays by such diverse dramatists as Udall, Bale, Phillip, Legge, Kyd, Marlowe, Peele, Shakespeare, Middleton, Dekker and Webster are subject to readings that illuminate the narrative value of the mother figure to early modern dramatists. The book explores the typology of the mother figure by examining the ways in which her narrative value in religious, political and literary discourses of the period might impact upon her representation. It addresses a range of contemporary narratives from Reformation and counter-Reformation polemic to midwifery manuals and Mother's Legacies, and from the political rhetoric of Mary I, Elizabeth and James to the reported gallows confessions of mother convicts and the increasingly popular Puritan conduct books. The relations between tradition and change and between typology and narrative are explored through a focus upon the dramatised mother in a series of dramatic narratives that developed out of rapidly shifting social, political and religious conditions.

Elaine Hobby

times, alternating the identities of wife and widow. 4 Through focusing in turn on some deliberately disparate sources – spiritual autobiographies, midwifery manuals, and an extraordinary ‘History’ by Aphra Behn – this chapter seeks to indicate the huge range of under-read materials available to researchers interested in the role of religion in women’s life-cycle events, and to suggest that literary critical methods can make an important contribution to their analysis. In 1653, as Oliver

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
Rebecca Whiteley

’s religious prints were collected not only in Catholic countries but also by Protestant connoisseurs, including in England. Famed as one of the ‘most sophisticated of Baroque engravers’, Mellan was particularly known for developing the technique of using parallel lines of varying thickness, rather than hatched lines, to create tone, and the Holy Face was widely cited as the example par excellence. 1 In 1668, just under twenty years after the first publication of Mellan’s Holy Face, a midwifery manual was

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
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Religion and life cycles in early modern England
Caroline Bowden, Emily Vine, and Tessa Whitehouse

‘life cycles’. Rebecca Whiteley’s analysis of ‘birth figures’ ( Chapter 2 ), anatomical drawings found predominantly in midwifery manuals, has important implications for how printed images shaped medical and religious understandings of pregnancy and childbirth. Rosemary Keep’s study of the Aston portrait demonstrates how birth, death, childhood, adulthood and intense piety interact in close proximity within a single painting ( Chapter 11 ). David Fletcher’s examination of Restoration comedy focuses on the

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
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Rachel Adcock, Sara Read, and Anna Ziomek

the sins of the parents, particularly the mother. As Pamela Hammons writes, the ‘intellectual, spiritual, and moral shortcoming of mothers were believed capable of replication in their offspring’s bodies and destinies’:4 in other words, the mother’s spiritual state could be mirrored by her child’s physical appearance. A connected medical belief concerned ‘maternal imagination’, by which the emotions of the mother during the formation of a foetus could affect the child’s appearance. The midwife Jane Sharp described this belief in her midwifery manual: The child in

in Flesh and Spirit
Preventative medicine
Louise Hill Curth

sexual enjoyment was within ‘a loving marriage’, with the proviso to avoid ‘excessive venery’. On the other hand, writers such as Shakespeare ‘celebrated’ both heterosexual and homosexual sex, while Pietro Aretino (1492–1556) produced what would now be called pornographic literature. There were also a variety of publications aimed mainly at women, including books of ‘secrets’ and midwifery manuals.108 Popular medical books offered men very different advice to that given to women. Much of this was misogynistic, based partially on the idea that women were sexually

in English almanacs, astrology and popular medicine: 1550–1700