Theatrical Convention and Audience Response in Early Modern Drama

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This book gives a detailed and comprehensive survey of the diverse, theatrically vital formal conventions of the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Besides providing new readings of plays such as Hamlet, Othello, Merchant of Venice, and Titus Andronicus, it also places Shakespeare emphatically within his own theatrical context, insisting on his identity as just one of many working playwrights, and focusing on the relationship between the extremely demanding repertory system of the time and the conventions and content of the plays. Lopez argues that the limitations of the relatively bare stage and non-naturalistic mode of early modern theatre would have made the potential for failure very great, and he proposes that understanding this potential for failure - the way playwrights anticipated it and audiences responded to it - is crucial for understanding the way in which the drama succeeded on state. The book offers new perspectives on familiar conventions such as the pun, the aside, and the expository speech; and it works toward a definition of early modern theatrical genres based on the relationship between these well-known conventions and the incoherent experience of early modern theatrical narratives.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" energetic discussion...provides an always interesting argument about what Elizabethan and Jacobean drama "assumes of its audience and how its audience experiences it and responds to it"." Susan Bennett, University of Calgary, Theatre Journal

"Lopez gives us illuminating new readings of a number of Shakespearian and other plays. Highly recommended." Bibliotheque d'humanisme et Renaissance

"Fascinating." Studies in English Literature

"I came away enriched by having been taken through a well-conceived, carefully constructed, and clear presentation." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England Alan Dessen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521032834
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Lopez is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the College of William and Mary.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 "As it was acted to great applause": Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences and the physicality of response 13
2 Meat, magic, and metamorphosis: on puns and wordplay 35
3 Managing the aside 56
4 Exposition, redundancy, action 78
5 Disorder and convention 97
6 Drama of disappointment: character and narrative in Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedy 134
7 Laughter and narrative in Elizabethan and Jacobean comedy 170
8 Epilogue: Jonson and Shakespeare 201
Plays and editions cited 217
Works cited 229
Index 234
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