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Drama and the Politics of Professionalism in England c.1600-1640

Steward, Martin; (2004) Drama and the Politics of Professionalism in England c.1600-1640. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The project was conceived as a cultural-studies contribution to the debate around the "causes of the English Civil War". The "silences of conciliation" emphasized by "revisionist" historians concealed an unwillingness to entertain a theory of sovereignty, despite Tudor administrative centralization. Understanding this unwillingness helps explain how conciliation could be a preface to civil war. The answer lies partly in the way professional constituencies divided up the action of government. This did not prevent dissension, because these competing claims upon power perpetuated precisely those divisions which concepts of sovereignty were designed to overcome. Reading controversy from within the idioms of these professions reveals divergent constitutional theories, articulated at a remove from mainstream political discussion or institutions, which sound orthodox, but constantly threaten to open divisions in the public sphere. The introductory section sets the historiographical and literary-historical contexts for the period, with particular emphasis on the professional status of the theatre, and its impact in the political sphere. Section One describes how professional disputes between common lawyers, civilians, and the episcopacy impacted on constitutional questions, before exploring how far theological disputes concerning "Arminianism" can be reinterpreted as debates over the socio-political role of the clerical profession. It concludes by showing how Cymbeline and King John and Matilda deal with similar issues while removing them from their original professional contexts into a theatrical one. Section Two focuses on the monarchy. Examining Baconian science as well as "Arminian" and "Puritan" theology, it argues that vague divine right theories opened up spaces for claims of professional interpretative supremacy within apparently "absolutist" rhetorics. These themes are drawn together in a reading of The Royal Slave. In Section Three the contrasting aesthetics of the Shakespeare-Jonson rivalry are translated into a contrasting politics through readings of Jonson's critical works and Poetaster, and Shakespeare's Tempest. The Section concludes with a reading of The Roman Actor, an exemplary apologia for the political role of an independent, professionalized theatre.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Drama and the Politics of Professionalism in England c.1600-1640
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Communication and the arts; English Civil War
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101067
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