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For many years the study of pre-seventeenth-century English drama was shaped largely by an understanding that everything written revolved around the individual author, either as part of the tradition that prepared the way for Shakespeare or as part of his legacy.
Now twenty-five original essays by leading theorists and historians chart a paradigmatic shift within the field. In contrast to the traditional emphasis on individual authors, the contributors here explore the place of the stage within the larger society, as well as issues of performance and physical space.
The essays are organized into three sections: "Early English Drama and Physical Space" examines the settings in which plays were acted; "Early English Drama and Social Space" juxtaposes the theater with such contemporary subcultures as the church, the city, and the court. Finally, "Early English Drama and Conditions of Performance and Publication" explores a wide range of material conditions and contexts, from props to printers.
A major summary of contemporary scholarship and a storehouse of new theoretical and historical information, A New History of Early English Drama skillfully illustrates the complex influence of physical and social elements woven into the texts, and provides an innovative approach to literary studies and cultural history.
Columbia University Press
Winner, Association for Theatre in Higher Education Book Prize
— Alan Somerset
The twenty six essays in this valuable and much-needed work focus particularly on the social and material implications of performance spaces from street to court; the ways in which religious, civic, domestic, courtly, literary, and popular expectations affected the drama [prior to 1642]; and the conditions under which plays were produced and disseminated. The collection provides an accurate and authoritative overview of the early English drama, embeds it in the historical conditions of its production, and suggests directions for future study. The bibliography, index, and play index all cover the entire book, so that one can easily locate a topic wherever it appears.
Introduction: Demanding HistoryWorld Pictures, Modern Periods, and the Early Stage, by Margreta de GraziaThe English Church as Theatrical Space, by John M. Wasson,A Commonty a Christmas gambold or a tumbling trick: Household Theater, by Suzanne WestfallThe Universities: Early Staging in Cambridge, by Alan H. NelsonEarly Staging in Oxford, by John R. Elliott, Jr.Streets and Markets, by Anne HigginsThe Theaters, by John OrrellRowme of its Own: Printed Drama in Early Libraries, by Heidi Brayman HackelTheater and Religious Culture, by Paul Whitfield WhiteWonderful Spectacles: Theater and Civic Culture, by Gordon Kipling,The Theater and Domestic Culture, by Diana E. HendersonEntertainments at Court, by Graham ParryThe Theater and Literary Culture, by Barbara A. MowatTheater and Popular Culture, by Michael D. BristolTouring, by Peter H. GreenfieldCloathes worth all the rest: Costumes and Properties, by Jean MacIntyre and Garret P.J. EppCensorship, by Richard DuttonAudiences: Investigation, Interpretation, Invention, by Ann Jennalie CookRogues and Rhetoricians: Acting Styles in Early English Drama, by Peter ThomsonPersonnel and Professionalization, by W.R. StreitbergerPlaywriting: Authorship and Collaboration, by Jeffrey MastenThe Publication of Playbooks, by Peter W. M. BlaneyPatronage and the Economics of Theater, by Kathleen E. McLuskie and Felicity DunsworthThe Revision of Scripts, by Eric RasmussenThe Repertory, by Roslyn L. KnutsonPlays in Manuscript, by Paul Werstine
Columbia University Press