Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...

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Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Greenblatt
Becoming Criminal is ambitious Althusserian analysis of the criminal subcultures of Renaissance England. For Reynolds—who was,as he tells us,initiated into a fascination with criminality when he was a high school student in Scarsdale—the rogue pamphlets,anti-theatrical tracts,and repressive legislation of the late sixteenth century are not the expression of paranoia in high places. Rather,they disclose the existence of a strange 'transversal power,' an alternative,oppositional culture whose values threatened the established order and whose visionary energies continue to haunt our own world.
Arthur F. Kinney
Reynolds has some very new and valuable reconceptualizations of the rogue pamphlets and criminal literature of the late Tudor–early Stuart period in England,and he has provided the best analysis I know of their language. He expands Félix Guattari's term 'transversal' to something far more suggestive,to point towards a conceptual and experiential expansion of boundaries. Becoming Criminal is a valuable and significant contribution to scholarship.
Tennessean
A very useful introduction for those interested in the ways in which the Renaissance is frequently introduced to today's students... [Reynolds] is unusually attuned to the ways in which acts of speech depend upon their context and their assumed audience, and his analysis impressively focuses upon the cultural and literary importance of writing outside the canon. His book never fails to be interesting.

— Dennis D. Kezar

Studies in English Literature
[Bryan Reynolds] frames his cross-disciplinary inquiry with a concept of 'transversal theory,' which offers a spatially organized understanding of how subjects empower themselves through performance (social, criminal, or theatrical) and so not only defy official ideology but also transform the conditions of their own perception and experience... Especially valuable here is Reynolds's analysis of canting language as an 'official' language used by all members of a substantially unified criminal subculture that emerged in the 1520's, continued beyond the Puritan's rise to power in the early 1640's, and was commodified and fetishized by official culture.
Renaissance Quarterly
A valuable contribution both to the study of early modern criminality and to theorizing the period's social and political relations more broadly.

— Tanya Pollard

Sixteenth-Century Journal
Becoming Criminal's transversal theory performs a valuable service in reconceptualizing early modern English criminality and linking it to some of the period's most important institutions and discourses.

— Stephen Cohen

Tennessean - Dennis D. Kezar
A very useful introduction for those interested in the ways in which the Renaissance is frequently introduced to today's students... [Reynolds] is unusually attuned to the ways in which acts of speech depend upon their context and their assumed audience, and his analysis impressively focuses upon the cultural and literary importance of writing outside the canon. His book never fails to be interesting.
Renaissance Quarterly - Tanya Pollard
A valuable contribution both to the study of early modern criminality and to theorizing the period's social and political relations more broadly.
Sixteenth Century Journal - Stephen Cohen
Becoming Criminal's transversal theory performs a valuable service in reconceptualizing early modern English criminality and linking it to some of the period's most important institutions and discourses.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801876752
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Bryan Reynolds is an associate professor of drama at the University of California, Irvine.

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Table of Contents


Contents:



Preface

Acknowledgments



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



Notes

Bibliography

Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2004

    Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England

    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.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2004

    Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England

    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!)

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