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In this book Bryan Reynolds argues that early modern England experienced a sociocultural phenomenon, unprecedented in English history, which has been largely overlooked by historians and critics. Beginning in the 1520s, a distinct "criminal culture" of beggars, vagabonds, confidence tricksters, prostitutes, and gypsies emerged and flourished. This community defined itself through its criminal conduct and dissident thought and was, in turn,officially defined by and against the ...
In this book Bryan Reynolds argues that early modern England experienced a sociocultural phenomenon, unprecedented in English history, which has been largely overlooked by historians and critics. Beginning in the 1520s, a distinct "criminal culture" of beggars, vagabonds, confidence tricksters, prostitutes, and gypsies emerged and flourished. This community defined itself through its criminal conduct and dissident thought and was, in turn,officially defined by and against the dominant conceptions of English cultural normality.
Examining plays, popular pamphlets, laws, poems, and scholarly work from the period, Reynolds demonstrates that this criminal culture, though diverse, was united by its own ideology, language, and aesthetic. Using his transversal theory, he shows how the enduring presence of this criminal culture markedly influenced the mainstream culture's aesthetic sensibilities, socioeconomic organization, and systems of belief. He maps the effects of the public theater's transformative force of transversality, such as through the criminality represented by Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Dekker, on both Elizabethan and Jacobean society and the scholarship devoted to it.
— Dennis D. Kezar
— Tanya Pollard
— Stephen Cohen
ONE State Power, Cultural Dissidence, Transversal Power
TWO Becoming Gypsy, Criminal Culture, Becoming Transversal
THREE Communal Departure, Criminal Language, Dissident Consolidation
FOUR Social Spatialization, Criminal Praxis, Transversal Movement
FIVE Antitheatrical Discourse, Transversal Theater, Criminal Intervention
Posted February 16, 2004
In Becoming Criminal, with remarkable ingenuity, Reynolds develops and demonstrates an original, purposeful, and conscientious critical approach, what he calls ¿transversal theory,¿ that is simultaneously poststructuralist, performance-oriented, humanist, and materialist (the book teems with evidence from early modern texts of all genres: plays, pamphlets, poems, state documents, and personal letters). In effect, Reynolds¿ work is at the cutting edge of the next generation of literary-critical-performance studies, and thus Becoming Criminal may be as important to the next twenty years of early modern studies as Stephen Greenblatt¿s Renaissance Self-Fashioning has been to the last twenty. But Reynolds¿s ¿transversal poetics,¿ I predict, will not just replace the new historicism as the dominant critical paradigm; it will continue to be a major influence well beyond the next two decades, especially given that its methodology is subsuming (manifesting and expanding on much of what the new historicism had to offer), processual (self-aware and open-ended), and necessitates evolution in response to both the changing environments through which the transversal critic travels and the various subject matters she/he pursues. As Reynolds¿ transversal slogan emphasizes, ¿Become what you aren¿t.¿Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2004
Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England is revolutionary for many reasons and will contribute invaluably to research in the humanities. The big word of the last twenty years has been ¿interdisciplinarity,¿ and, in my opinion, it has not produced the kinds of studies it implies. While there have been theoretical and methodological cross-fertilization within the humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences, the borders between these fields are rarely self-consciously traversed. Such traversing of borders is among the many things that distinguishes Reynolds¿ transversal approach -- a theoretical framework he initiated in his 1997 Theatre Journal article, ¿The Devil¿s House, `or worse¿: Transversal Power and Antitheatrical Discourse in Early Modern England,¿ that is now taught in all theatre theory and performance theory courses. The fact that Becoming Criminal is truly cross-disciplinary and theoretically-driven in both scope and methodology, and thus important to scholarship in a number of fields (literary criticism, history, sociology, linguistics, semiotics, cultural studies, performance studies, and critical theory) greatly distinguishes it from other books on the representation of rogues, vagabonds, and gypsies in early modern English literature. This book has been hugely helpful to me, someone who is currently writing a book on the dramatic and literary representation of highwaymen in the long 18th century. (Look for it in 2006!)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.