1590s Drama and Militarism : Portrayals of War in Marlowe, Chapman and Shakespeare's Henry V book cover
1st Edition

1590s Drama and Militarism
Portrayals of War in Marlowe, Chapman and Shakespeare's Henry V

ISBN 9780754602743
Published October 3, 2001 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

1590s Drama and Militarism is a fascinating interdisciplinary study of various textual interventions into the military realities of the late Elizabethan period. Its major strength is its insistence on the discursive nature of militarism, and the author convincingly uses literary and non-literary texts-including manuals and contemporary military correspondence-to reconstruct the particular anxieties which surrounded the military exigencies of the 1590s, a particularly fraught and unstable period of the aging queen's reign. The literature of the 'art of war' has been little studied by literary scholars, despite their richly rhetorical nature. Dr Taunton's analysis thus brings to light a neglected but culturally significant form of Renaissance textuality. In doing so she is able to shed new light on the Renaissance drama, which she shows to have responded sensitively (and sometimes critically) to these textual constructions of actual warfare, and problematised the anxious idealisations of the military manuals. The particular readings of plays here are richly rewarding for the scholar of Renaissance drama-the significance of Henry's nocturnal surveillance of his own camp on the eve of the battle of Agincourt, for example, benefits immeasurably from being contextualised in the light of contemporary theories of encampment. The role of the women in Tamburlaine's camp in Marlowe's plays is also given particular significance when viewed in the light of the contemporary proscriptions regarding the presence of women in camps during the military campaigns in the Low Countries. In this study Dr Taunton makes appropriate (and critically inflected) use of Foucault's theories of surveillance, Lefebvre's theories about the ideological production of social space, and Michel de Certeau's theories of social practice are put to good use in her analysis of military strategy. These theoretical perspectives are usefully combined with highly specific and well-documented historical analyses.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: The brazen throat of war; Part I: Generals: The real and the ideal: Sutcliffe, Essex; Alternative model: Northumberland; Marlowe’s Tamburlaine; Shakespeare’s Henry V; Commanders in action: Henri IV of France, the Birons and Roger Williams; the siege of Rouen; Chapman. The Byron Plays; Part II: Stratagems of war: Strategy; Tactics; Numbers: Arms and the man; Rhetoric; Part III: Camps: Watchfulness: Henry V; Locations: Caesar and Pompey; Forbidden presences: the women in the two Tamburlaine plays; Coda; Index.

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Nina Taunton is a lecturer in English at Brunel University. She has published several essays and refereed articles on Renaissance drama, and is co-editor of The Body in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2000).


'... interdisciplinary and historically precise... 1590s Drama and Militarism is a welcome addition to the field.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'Taunton writes with persuasive candor and impressive documentation about the confusions found in dramatic and non-dramatic considerations of military procedures and the ways in which they both reflect and influence contemporary military practices. By design, her book raises more questions than it settles. As a result, one emerges from it with an understanding of a significant cultural cause for some of the contradictions and ambiguities in the plays under scrutiny and with a greater appreciation of the instability and the anomalies of military thinking and practices during the final years of Elizabeth's reign.' Renaissance Quarterly '...an extraordinary contribution to what many critics have seen as a neglected area of scholarship...Fascinatingly illustrated...the book is beautifully produced, readable and instructive.' Literature and History