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Becoming Criminal

Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England

Bryan Reynolds

Publication Year: 2002

In this book Bryan Reynolds argues that early modern England experienced a sociocultural phenomenon, unprecedented in English history, which has been largely overlooked by historians and critics. Beginning in the 1520s, a distinct "criminal culture" of beggars, vagabonds, confidence tricksters, prostitutes, and gypsies emerged and flourished. This community defined itself through its criminal conduct and dissident thought and was, in turn,officially defined by and against the dominant conceptions of English cultural normality. Examining plays, popular pamphlets, laws, poems, and scholarly work from the period, Reynolds demonstrates that this criminal culture, though diverse, was united by its own ideology, language, and aesthetic. Using his transversal theory, he shows how the enduring presence of this criminal culture markedly influenced the mainstream culture's aesthetic sensibilities, socioeconomic organization, and systems of belief. He maps the effects of the public theater's transformative force of transversality, such as through the criminality represented by Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Dekker, on both Elizabethan and Jacobean society and the scholarship devoted to it.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

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Preface

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pp. 10-13

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 14-17

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ONE: State Power, Cultural Dissidence, Transversal Power

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pp. 18-39

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TWO: Becoming Gypsy, Criminal Culture, Becoming Transversal

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pp. 40-80

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THREE: Communal Departure, Criminal Language, Dissident Consolidation

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pp. 81-94

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FOUR: Social Spatialization, Criminal Praxis, Transversal Movement

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pp. 95-124

To promote the hegemony of official culture and advance the state, early modern England’s state machinery needed to construct, imbue, and regulate the populace’s subjective territory: its range of conceptual and emotional experience. In conjunction, and by extension, it needed to rule the physical existence of the populace. I am primarily concerned...

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FIVE: Antitheatrical Discourse, Transversal Theater, Criminal Intervention

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pp. 125-155

In the preceding chapters we have seen the many ways by which transversal power manifested as and through early modern England’s emergent criminal culture of gypsies, rogues, vagabonds, beggars, cony-catchers, cutpurses, and prostitutes. Criminal culture’s transversal movement occurred in various modes, including countercultural...

Notes

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pp. 157-195

Bibliography

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pp. 197-207

Index

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pp. 209-217


E-ISBN-13: 9780801876752
E-ISBN-10: 0801876753
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801868085
Print-ISBN-10: 0801868084

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism.
  • Criminals in literature.
  • Literature and society -- England -- History -- 16th century.
  • Literature and society -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • England -- Social conditions -- 16th century.
  • England -- Social conditions -- 17th century.
  • Crime -- England -- History -- 16th century.
  • Crime -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • Romanies in literature.
  • Crime in literature.
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