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Discoveries on the Early Modern Stage
Contexts and Conventions


  • Date Published: July 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108494472

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About the Authors
  • This study of the action of discovery as plot device, visual motif, and thematic trope on the early modern stage considers an important and popular performance convention in its cultural and religious contexts. Through close examination of a number of 'discoveries' taken from a wide range of early modern plays, Leslie Thomson traverses several related disciplines, including theatre history, literary analysis, art history, and the history of the religious practices that would have influenced Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Taking as its primary focus the performance of disguise-discoveries and discovery scenes, the analyses include considerations of how this particular device relates to genre, plot structure, language, imagery, themes, and the manipulation of playgoer expectations. With strong reference to the visual arts, and an appendix that addresses the problem of how and where discovery scenes were performed, Thomson offers an innovative perspective on the staging and meaning of early modern drama.

    • Presents a detailed and evidence-based approach to the study of the action of discovery in early modern drama
    • Combines the study of theatre history, literary analysis, art history, and religion in early modern Britain
    • Includes extensive illustrative materials as well as online resources to further develop the exploration of the action of discovery on the early modern stage
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Leslie Thomson makes excellent use of her previous research into stage directions to give us a ground-breaking analysis of actions of 'discovery' on the Early Modern stage. This is an important book for scholars and students of theatre in the age of Shakespeare.' Ann Thompson, King's College London

    '… this study will help readers appreciate these plays as 'artefacts of another era.' Including a 16-page bibliography (primary and secondary works) and 32 illustrations, this is a valuable, detailed, and unique study. Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals.' J. S. Carducci, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108494472
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 32 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Kinds and uses
    2. Time and truth
    3. Religious rites and secular spectacle
    4. Revelation and belief
    5. Private places and hidden spaces
    6. Invention and artifice
    Appendix: was there a central opening in the tiring house wall?

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    Discoveries on the Early Modern Stage

    Leslie Thomson

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  • Author

    Leslie Thomson, University of Toronto
    Leslie Thomson is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Toronto. She is co-author (with Alan C. Dessen) of A Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama, 1580–1642 (Cambridge, 1999) and editor of Anything for a Quiet Life in Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works (2010). She has published articles on a range of topics related to early modern stage directions and staging.

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