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Apocalypse and Anti-Catholicism in Seventeenth-Century English Drama
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Book description

This book examines the many and varied uses of apocalyptic and anti-Catholic language in seventeenth-century English drama. Adrian Streete argues that this rhetoric is not simply an expression of religious bigotry, nor is it only deployed at moments of political crisis. Rather, it is an adaptable and flexible language with national and international implications. It offers a measure of cohesion and order in a volatile century. By rethinking the relationship between theatre, theology and polemic, Streete shows how playwrights exploited these connections for a diverse range of political ends. Chapters focus on playwrights like Marston, Middleton, Massinger, Shirley, Dryden and Lee, and on a range of topics including imperialism, reason of state, commerce, prostitution, resistance, prophecy, church reform and liberty. Drawing on important recent work in religious and political history, this is a major re-interpretation of how and why religious ideas are debated in the early modern theatre.


'Its comprehensiveness is staggering: en route to close reading particular plays, Streete provides numerous examples and quotations from a variety of contemporaneous plays, poems, speeches, and sermons, making it the most crossgeneric monograph this reader has seen and enjoyed. Streete’s sensitivity and command of early modern culture is unparalleled … Streete’s ability to trace ripples of fear through his encyclopaedic grasp of the period’s publishing history makes his argument virtually airtight.'

Kyle Sebastian Vitale Source: The Review of English Studies

'A finely detailed and instructive study of how political and religious discourses are reconfigured in the language, plot and personation of drama … an excellent resource that will propel further scholarly interest.'

Daniel Cattell Source: The Seventeenth Century

'… this is a major work of early modern scholarship and it will prove to be invaluable to anyone working in the fields of religious controversy, religio-political drama, the wider religious and political culture of seventeenth-century Britain, or Protestant Britain’s relationship with its Protestant and Roman Catholic neighbours and with the cross-denominational application of apocalyptic thought.'

Paul Quinn Source: British Catholic History

'Apocalypse and Anti-Catholicism makes a good companion piece to the same author’s earlier study of Protestantism and Drama in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2009). Streete has carved out a special niche for himself in this field.'

R. C. Richardson Source: Literature & History

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-23
  • Chapter 1 - Antichrist and the Whore in Early Modern England
    pp 24-58
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