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Theatre and Humanism
English Drama in the Sixteenth Century


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  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521030540

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About the Authors
  • English drama at the beginning of the sixteenth century was allegorical, didactic and moralistic; but by the end of the century theatre was censured as emotional and even immoral. How could such a change occur? Kent Cartwright suggests that some theories of early Renaissance theatre - particularly the theory that Elizabethan plays are best seen in the tradition of morality drama - need to be reconsidered. He proposes instead that humanist drama of the sixteenth century is theatrically exciting - rather than literary, elitist and dull as it has often been seen - and socially significant, and he attempts to integrate popular and humanist values rather than setting them against each other. Taking as examples the plays of Marlowe, Heywood, Lyly and Greene, as well as many by lesser-known dramatists, the book demonstrates the contribution of humanist drama to the theatrical vitality of the sixteenth century.

    • First book in over 20 years to discuss hundred years of drama from More Circle playwrights to the University Wits
    • Discusses plays by well-known dramatists such as Marlowe, Lyly, Heywood as well as many lesser known authors
    • Offers an interesting account of humanist drama
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    • Winner of the Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for a Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… Cartwright's fundamental reassessment of the roots of Renaissance drama is absorbing to read and compelling in its argument … In painstaking historical detail, in close textual observation, in imagined performative spectacle, Cartwright's view is not only modifying and corrective. It is seminal.' Arthur F. Kinney, Shakespeare Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521030540
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.513kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The humanism of acting: John Heywood's The Foure PP
    2. Wit and Science and the dramaturgy of learning
    3. Playing against type: Gammer Gurton's Needle
    4. Time, tyranny and suspense in political drama of the 1560s
    5. Humanism and the dramatizing of women
    6. The confusions of Gallathea: John Lyly as popular dramatist
    7. Bearing witness to Tamburlaine, Part 1
    8. Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay: the commonwealth at the present moment

  • Author

    Kent Cartwright, University of Maryland, College Park


    • Winner of the Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for a Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe

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