1st Edition

Shakespeare’s Hobby-Horse and Early Modern Popular Culture

By Natália Pikli Copyright 2022
    286 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    286 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the ways in which the early modern hobby-horse featured in different productions of popular culture between the 1580s and 1630s.

    Natália Pikli approaches this study with a thorough and interdisciplinary examination of hobby-horse references, with commentary on the polysemous uses of the word, offers an informative background to reconsider well-known texts by Shakespeare and others, and provides an overview on the workings of cultural memory regarding popular culture in early modern England.

    The book will appeal to those with interest in early modern drama and theatre, dramaturgy, popular culture, cultural memory, and iconography.

    List of figuresAcknowledgementsNote on texts;  Introduction;  1. The hobby-horse and the early modern morris dance;  2. Living nostalgia and the cluster of allusions around 1600;  3. Gender, prejudice, and popular dramatic medleys;  4. The hobby-horse in university plays and on politicized public stages;  5. Hobby-horses in cheap print and iconography (1610s–1635);  AppendixIndex


    Natália Pikli is an Associate Professor at the Department of English Studies, School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, and was Guest Lecturer at the Hungarian University of Theatre and Film Arts.

    ''This fascinating book uses its revelations about the hobby-horse in fact and metaphor to complicate our understanding of performance, orality and print. It explores hobby-horses as they are performed in morris dances, depicted in stained glass windows and emblem books, and referred to in ballads, pamphlets, and plays, casting a new light on popular culture. With its wide-range of textual reference, from the plays of Shakespeare and Jonson on the one hand, to the pamphlets of water-poet John Taylor on the other, ‘the hobby-horse is forgot’ no longer as a result of this riveting study.'' Tiffany Stern, FBA, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

    ‘’Pikli starts her investigation by defining what a hobby-horse meant for an early modern reader and theater-goer, and thus uncovers a palimpsest of meanings that all interacted whenever the hobby-horse was mentioned. The word, in the most literal sense referred to “a breed of small horse, often of Irish origin” (9), however, it most commonly recalled the half-human, half-animal character of the Morris dance…. Pikli’s sense for the theatrical and her vast knowledge of early modern popular culture render her book an insightful history on the interplay of the theater, popular culture, and memory in early modern England. Her style and often witty personal comments on Jonson’s or Marston’s plays transform the vastly informative book into a joyful read. Her research places the hobbyhorse on the map of early modern cultural and literary studies, so we can allbreathe a sigh of relief, o joy, o joy, the hobby-horse is remembered.’’ Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest

    ‘’Natália Pikli is a Hungarian scholar of English specializing in Tudor and early Stuart drama and carnival. In this book she traces the associations of the hobby-horse in the allusions and references to it during that period. Given her interests, it is not surprising that most of these are in the drama, though she also covers the verse of the period and the iconography….Two things stand out above all in her analysis: the breadth of meanings conjured up by the word ‘hobby-horse’, and the shift in public attitudes and perceptions over a sixty-year period from about 1580 to 1640. ‘Hobby-horse’ can refer to the small Irish horse proper; to the wickerwork frame horse often associated with the morris dance; to the child’s toy of a horse’s head on a stick; to a foolish person; or to a woman characterized as ‘loose’ or ‘wanton’….Pikli would have done well to consult more with scholars of folk custom, music, and dance. It is meaningless to refer to ‘folk songs’ of the period; and ironic that she should attribute the enigmatic phrase ‘the hobby-horse is forgot’ to ‘a lost folk dance song’ rather than a lost ballad (p. 72), when ‘ballad’ was originally a dance song, and the difference between a ‘ballad’ and a ‘song’ in Tudor/Stuart times is elusive at best….These shortcomings may be particularly irksome for readers of this journal, but this remains a valuable addition to the sparse hobby-horse literature and should be essential reading for anyone interested in the subject.’’ Michael Heaney, Oxford, Folk Music Journal