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Introduction This collection of essays from new and established scholars confronts two issues of recurrent interest in Renaissance studies: the impact of religious change on early modern English drama, and the impact of early modern English drama on religious change. Of course, scholars have long been fascinated with the effect sixteenth-century religious developments had on the early Tudor and Elizabethan stage. But most contemporary critical writings on Reformation English drama differ profoundly from much earlier work of this kind, in several respects. First, much current work reveals scholars' interest in the correspondences rather than the clashes between traditional and reformed religion, and hence in the links between "old" and "new" religious messages embodied in stage play. Such critical work seeks to show that Protestant playwrights communicated enduring spiritual truths through revised dramatic forms: forms that responded to particular social and political aspects of the sixteenth-century religious struggle. Second, much current work on drama and religion seeks to expose how drama not only reflected new developments in religious thought but also actively fostered such changes. Third and most important, new work shows scholars moving farther and farther from the older critical model which categorizes medieval drama as religious and Renaissance drama as secular. In fact, the seven articles which comprise this volume demonstrate Reformation playwrights' lively interest in the nature of God, in government 's responsibility to uphold divine law, and in the mysterious connection between Christian Providence and human choice. These essays confine their focus to the sixteenth century, yet examine a striking variety of dramatic genres within that hundred -year span. The history play, the masque-like dramas of John LyIy, revenge tragedy, early Tudor humanist and morality plays, Marlovian tragedy, and even coronation pageants are all discussed with regard to their Reformation significance. An emergent theme among the essays has been the manner in which images, popular mottoes, and stage conventions were competitively adapted by religious traditionalists and reformers alike viIntroduction to support the causes of each group. While early-twentieth-century writers such as E. K. Chambers posited an evolving secularism in sixteenth-century drama, and argued the resulting loss of older theatrical traditions, two of the essays herein discuss religiously significant dramatic conventions which continued to burgeon and thrive, in altered forms, as a result of Reformation influences. Arguing that the Reformation's impact on the Tudor morality play was not gradual but sudden, John Cox (Hope College ) demonstrates that traditional devil and Vice characters remained a lively though changed presence on the Protestant stage. While pre-Protestant playwrights used devils and Vices as general representations of evil, Protestant playwrights (such as John Bale and Thomas Garter) used devils and Vices to represent their own moral and political opponents, notably Catholic priests. But Cox argues that the Vice characters were not thereby secularized, nor was their spiritual significance reduced. Instead, the Vice figures were restructured and renamed to represent enemies to a godly community envisioned in Foxean terms. Further, a basic consistency in moral intent informs both the pre-Protestant and Reformation use of stage devils. Protestant playwrights honed and particularized their representations of worldly sin, even presented recognizably Protestant notions of what constituted sin in English culture. But, just as did Catholic playwrights, Protestants used devils to illuminate tragic spiritual choices. In her study of the Veritasfilia Temporis trope, Dawn Massey (Shakespeare Institute) shows a similar interest in the Protestant use of an originally Catholic artistic convention, and also an interest in Catholic rejoinders to Protestant uses of the Veritas filia Temporis motto. "Truth is the daughter of Time" was quoted, iconically represented, and staged by sixteenth-century Catholics and Protestants "as evidence that God was on their side in the struggle to liberate religious truth from the heretical forces which would seek to suppress it." Massey traces the sixteenth-century staging of the Veritas filia Temporis conceit, beginning with a Lutheran play performed in Cambridge in 1545 and progressing to a coronation pageant representing Queen Elizabeth, holding the English Bible, as Truth. Massey's essay culminates in a discussion of John Puckering's Horestes, a play performed at court in 1567 or 1568. She argues that Horestes supported the killing of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. v-ix
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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