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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.

Felicity Dunworth

This our noble island, in the bowels whereof, as in the womb of my mother, I was both bred and bor 1 Philip Stubbes Narrating history Jean Howard and Phyllis Rackin, who have worked so extensively on Shakespeare’s history plays, note that they contain ‘relatively few and often sketchy’ images of women and

in Mothers and meaning on the early modern English stage
Sarah Dewar-Watson

essence, presenting himself not only as a king but as a literary archetype. In fact, the story – and the play – are far from commonplace (‘vulgar’) in the way that Perkin suggests. Rather, Ford's Perkin Warbeck can be seen as something of an anomaly. Indeed, the play's subtitle, ‘A Strange Truth,’ draws our attention to the singular nature of the narrative which is presented. 1 Perhaps most strikingly, unlike Shakespeare's history plays, Ford's play is not called after the king but the man who would be king: moreover, Perkin constitutes a threat to the narrative of

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
The Gothic legacy of Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses
Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

Elizabethan theatre offers, and which continues to be the template for mass entertainment today, proves to be a two-edged sword. By having recourse to dramatic form and poetic language, Shakespeare’s history plays not only reflect and reflect on the theatricality of the politics in his own time but also speak to the radical doubt which female political power continues to provoke

in Gothic Renaissance
Alan Stewart

day, the ‘newes from Fraunce’ detailing both the Wars of Religion and England’s military involvement in France, which inspired and sustained a new medium, the printed newsletter. Newsletters from France presented recent events in a highly partial and partisan manner, as do the news-bearers in Shakespeare’s history plays. In dividing news between messengers, Shakespeare

in Formal matters
Marissa Nicosia

69 Chapter 3 Couplets, commonplaces and the creation of history in The Famous Tragedie of King Charles I (1649) and Cromwell’s Conspiracy (1660) Marissa Nicosia T Famous Tragedie of King Charles I (1649) is the first dramatic account of the defeat and execution of King Charles I.1 It is neither a conventional history play representing the King’s exploits nor a masque allegorising monarchical power, but rather a play pamphlet, a short, polemical play printed in the same pamphlet format as contemporary news. Like other play pamphlets from this era, The Famous

in From Republic to Restoration
Rewriting Shakespeare in A Poem upon the Death of O. C.
Alex Garganigo

last act, like spectators vain, Unless the prince whom they applaud be slain.    (lines 7–10) The play would seem to be a tragedy, with the prince slain in battle or by a traitor. But overall, the comparison does not reflect well on the English people, who approach their recent history and politics like a fiction. If this is a history play with tragic notes, Cromwell’s death from natural causes resembles that of Henry IV in 2 Henry IV. More importantly, though, Marvell casts Cromwell as something like Falstaff and himself as something like Hal. ‘I saw him dead

in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell
Reimagining nationhood in Macbeth
Christopher Ivic

[Gruffudd ap Llywelyn], two brothers, Kings of  Wales,  and subdued that Prouince to this Crowne. 13 ‘Even on the eve of the Norman conquest’, R. R. Davies writes, ‘the title rex totius Britanniae was accorded to Edward the Confessor in one group of his charters, and his near-contemporary biographer assumed that he was the ruler of Britain, nothing less’. 14 Although Macbeth incorporates elements of the Elizabethan history plays, it engages in a profound revision of the earlier plays’ articulations of and reflections on nationhood. Much more so than Shakespeare

in The subject of Britain, 1603–25
Abstract only
Reformation: reformulation, reiteration and reflection
Rosemary O’Day

.qxd:- 9/12/13 08:37 Page 327 CONCLUSION Early nineteenth-century writings on the Reformation also drew attention away from the internal affairs of the Reformation Church. Institutional history played little part in the debate: the focus was essentially political. This diversion from the path established by Strype in the early eighteenth century was, however, but temporary. The Church of England’s family squabble of the midnineteenth century – when Anglo-Catholic and Protestant brethren fell out – revived this earlier interest in the nature of the Church of England

in The Debate on the English Reformation
Abstract only
Editor: Gregory Vargo

The first collection of its kind, Chartist Drama makes available four plays written or performed by members of the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Emerging from the lively counter-culture of this protest campaign for democratic rights, these plays challenged cultural as well as political hierarchies by adapting such recognisable genres as melodrama, history plays, and tragedy for performance in radically new settings. A communal, public, and embodied art form, drama was linked for the Chartists with other kinds of political performance: the oratory of the mass platform, festival-like outdoor meetings, and the elaborate street theatre of protest marches. Plays that Chartists wrote or staged advanced new interpretations of British history and criticised aspects of the contemporary world. And Chartist drama intervened in fierce strategic arguments within the movement. Most notably, poet-activist John Watkins’s John Frost, which dramatises the gripping events of the Newport rising of 1839, in which twenty-two Chartists lost their lives, defends the rebellion and the Chartist recourse to violence as a means for the movement to achieve its aims. The volume’s appendices document over one hundred Chartist dramatic performances, staged by activists in local Chartist associations or at professional benefits at some of London’s largest working-class theatres. Gregory Vargo’s introduction and notes elucidate the previously unexplored world of Chartist dramatic culture, a context that promises to reshape what we know about early Victorian popular politics and theatre.