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Part of a larger project to examine the Elizabethan politics of representation, Louis Montrose's The Purpose of Playing refigures the social and cultural context within which Elizabethan drama was created.
Montrose first locates the public and professional theater within the ideological and material framework of Elizabethan culture. He considers the role of the professional theater and theatricality in the cultural transformation that was concurrent with religious and socio-political change, and then concentrates upon the formal means by which Shakespeare's Elizabethan plays called into question the absolutist assertions of the Elizabethan state. Drawing dramatic examples from the genres of tragedy and history, Montrose finally focuses his cultural-historical perspective on A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Purpose of Playing elegantly demonstrates how language and literary imagination shape cultural value, belief, and understanding; social distinction and interaction; and political control and contestation.
|To The Reader|
|Texts and Histories||1|
|Pt. 1||Drama, Theatre, Society, and the State: Form and Pressure|
|I||The Reformation of Playing||19|
|II||A Theatre of Changes||30|
|III||Anatomies of Playing||41|
|IV||The Theatre, the City, and the Crown||53|
|V||From the Stage to the State||66|
|VI||The Power of Personation||76|
|VII||The Cross-Purposes of Playing||99|
|Pt. 2||The Shaping Fantasies of A Midsummer Night's Dream|
|VIII||The Discord of This Concord||109|
|IX||Stories of the Night||124|
|X||The Imperial Votaress||151|
|Epilogue: A Kingdom of Shadows||206|