Kingship, Madness, and Masculinity on the Early Modern Stage : Mad World, Mad Kings book cover
1st Edition

Kingship, Madness, and Masculinity on the Early Modern Stage
Mad World, Mad Kings

ISBN 9780367760847
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
242 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Kingship, Madness, and Masculinity examines representations of mad kings in early modern English theatrical texts and performance practices.

Although there have been numerous volumes examining the medical and social dimensions of mental illness in the early modern period, and a few that have examined stage representations of such conditions, this volume is unique in its focus on the relationships between madness, kingship, and the anxiety of lost or fragile masculinity. The chapters uncover how, as the early modern understanding of mental illness refocused on human, rather than supernatural, causes, public stages became important arenas for playwrights, actors, and audiences to explore expressions of madness and to practice diagnoses. Throughout the volume, the authors engage with the field of disability studies to show how disability and mental health were portrayed on stage and what those representations reveal about the period and the people who lived in it. Altogether, the essays question what happens when theatrical expressions of madness are mapped onto the bodies of actors playing kings, and how the threat of diminished masculinity affects representations of power.

This volume is the ideal resource for students and scholars interested in the history of kingship, gender, and politics in early modern drama.

Table of Contents

Introduction: madness, kingship, and early modern masculinity

Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy

Section 1: Distracted kingship

1. "Cold in great affairs:" finding madness in the writer’s method: decoding representations of the madness of Shakespeare’s Henry VI

Alison Basil

2. "Bad is the world": Richard III and social deformity

Liberty S. Stanavage

3. "Every madman dreameth waking": Macbeth and The Winter’s Tale

Carole Levin

4. "Now quit you of great shames": Henry V and the mad French king

Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy

Section Two: Fractured masculinity

5. "The strangest men that ever nature made!" Wildness, lovesickness, and sodomy in Marlowe’s Edward II and Tamburlaine the Great

Sarah Crockarell

6. Murderous distraction and the downfall of the tyrant in Thomas Middleton’s The Lady’s Tragedy

William David Green

7. Sad stories of the death of kings: using despair to write history

Jeffrey S. Squires

Section Three: Performed madness

8. Tom a Bedlam’s masculine melancholy and King Lear’s missing mad song

Stacey Jocoy

9. "My honor's at the stake": anger, illness, and royal identity in All's Well that Ends Well

Deb Streusand

10. "Let hell make Crook’d my mind": kingship and madness in Richard III

Benjamin Curns

11. Feigning sick: King Lear, Volpone, and the strategic performance of disability

R.W. Jones

12. Performing the "mad" prince: mental illness and princeliness in Hamlet

Rachel Stewart

Conclusion: the future of mad kings

Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy

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Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy is Assistant Professor of Performance and Theatre History at Northern Arizona University. Her research interests include the adaptation of early modern history plays for American political contexts. Her first book, Like a King: Casting Shakespeare’s Histories for Citizens and Subjects, was published in 2020.