History, Religion, and Violence: Cultural Contexts for Medieval and Renaissance English Drama, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

History, Religion, and Violence

Cultural Contexts for Medieval and Renaissance English Drama, 1st Edition

By Clifford Davidson


318 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788829
pub: 2002-06-10
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Professor Davidson is concerned here to chart public theatrical display as a barometer of developments in the English Middle Ages and Renaissance. This book brings together twelve previously published articles on historical and religious aspects of the early English theatre as well as an original essay on Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and the Papacy. Other essays on Renaissance drama focus on Shakespeare against the background of the political and religious crosscurrents of the time. The treatment of medieval drama is dealt with under two headings, the first of which treats sacred violence in the mysteries. The second presents investigations of the cultural contexts for early English drama, from analysis of the claim that the mystery plays were informed by the spirit of Carnival to the signs of Doomsday in the pageant wagons on the streets of Coventry and Chester and in analogous representations in the visual arts.


'… presents a very scholarly and relevant view of violence in some of the late-medieval and early Renaissance drama. Davidson's knowledge of the literarure of the period provides an array of textual evidence, and his keen knowledge and use of visual art and iconography broadens the scope of his discussion. History, Religion, and Violence should prove an invaluable reference for students and enthusiasts of early English drama.' Medium Aevum

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Religious and historical crosscurrents in Renaissance drama: Marlowe, the Papacy, and Doctor Faustus; The History of King Lear and the problem of belief; The anxiety of power and Shakespeare's Macbeth; Antony and Cleopatra: Circe, Venus, and the Whore of Babylon; Sacred violence and the mysteries: Cain in the Mysteries: the iconography of violence; The sacrifice of Isaac in medieval English drama; Nudity, the body, and early English drama; Sacred blood and the late medieval stage; Cultural contexts for early drama: Carnival, Lent, and early English drama; The medieval stage and the antitheatrical prejudice; Idol and image in late medieval art and drama; Saints in play: English theater and saints' lives; Signs of Doomsday in drama and art; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General