Drama in Early Tudor Britain, 1485-1558

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A time of great changes after nearly a century of foreign wars and civil strife, the Tudor era witnessed a significant transformation of dramatic art. Medieval traditions were modified by the forces of humanism and the Reformation, and a renewed interest in classical models inspired experimentation. Howard B. Norland examines Tudor plays performed between 1485 and 1558, a time when drama reached beyond local, popular, and religious contexts to treat more varied and more secular concerns, culminating in the emergence of comedy and tragedy as major genres. The theater also imported dramas from the Continent, adapting them to English tastes. After establishing the popular dramatic traditions of fifteenth-century Britain, Norland discusses the critical interpretation of the Latin plays of Terence studied in the schools and the views of influential authors such as Erasmus, Vives, and More about what drama should be and do. The heart of the book is its in-depth analyses of individual plays. Norland examines the secularization of the morality play in Skelton’s Magnificence, Bale’s King John, Respublica, and Redford’s Wit and Science and he traces the changes in comic form from Medwall’s Fulgens and Lucres through Calisto and Melebea and Johan Johan to Udall’s Roister Doister and Gammer Gurton’s Needle. The final section examines the first tragedies written in England: Watson’s Absolom, Christopherson’s Jephthah, and Grimald’s Archipropheta.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803233379
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Pages: 394
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard B. Norland is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His articles have appeared in Genre, Sixteenth Century Journal, Fifteenth Century Studies, Comparative Drama, and Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Popular Dramatic Traditions
1 The Saints' Plays 3
2 The Civic Drama 16
3 The Morality Play before the Reformation 37
4 Folk Drama 48
Pt. 2 Contemporary Views of Drama
5 The Terentian Commentaries 65
6 Erasmus 84
7 Vives 95
8 More 111
9 Attitudes of Reformers and Humanists 128
Pt. 3 The Secularization of the Morality
10 The Prodigal Plays 149
11 Redford's Wit and Science 161
12 Skelton's Magnificence 175
13 Bale's King John 188
14 Respublica 199
15 Lindsay's Satire of the Three Estates 210
Pt. 4 The Development of Comedy
16 Medwall's Fulgens and Lucres 233
17 Calisto and Melebea 244
18 Johan Johan 255
19 Udall's Roister Doister 267
20 Gammer Gurton's Needle 280
Pt. 5 The Emergence of Tragedy
21 Watson's Absalom 295
22 Christopherson's Jephthah 307
23 Grimald's Archipropheta 319
Conclusion 335
Notes 343
Works Cited 359
Index 383
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