Bookending the chronology of this collection are two crucial moments in the histories of pain, trauma, and their staging in British theater: the establishment of secular and professional theater in London in the 1580s, and the growing dissatisfaction with theatrical modes of public punishment alongside the increasing efficacy of staging extravagant spectacles at the end of the eighteenth century. From the often brutal spectacle of late medieval mystery plays to early Romantic re-evaluations of eighteenth-century appropriations of spectacles of pain, the essays take up the significance of these watershed moments in British theater and expand on recent work treating bodies in pain: what and how pain means, how such meaning can be embodied, how such embodiment can be dramatized, and how such dramatizations can be put to use and made meaningful in a variety of contexts. Grouped thematically, the essays interrogate individual plays and important topics in terms of the volume's overriding concerns, among them Tamburlaine and The Maid's Tragedy, revenge tragedy, Joshua Reynolds on public executions, King Lear, Settle's Moroccan plays, spectacles of injury, torture, and suffering, and Joanna Baillie's Plays on the Passions. Collectively, these essays make an important contribution to the increasingly interrelated histories of pain, the body, and the theater.
'An impressive contribution to the study of early modern drama and its cultural contexts, this collection richly explores the uses of pain in the communal space of the theater to fashion identities, confront collective wounds, and rework traumatic histories, while also challenging us to think more carefully about the ways early modern stagings of trauma both resist and resonate with modern theoretical concepts.' Deborah Willis, University of California, Riverside, USA ’Interesting, but specialized…Recommended.’ Choice
Contents: Introduction: staging pain, Mathew R. Martin and James Robert Allard; Part I Traumatic Effects: 'This Tragic glass': tragedy and trauma in Tamburlaine Part 1, Mathew R. Martin; 'Uncollected man': trauma and the early modern mind-body in The Maid's Tragedy, Zackariah C. Long. Part II Pedagogies of Pain: 'These were spectacles to please my soul': inventive violence in the Renaissance revenge tragedy, Annalisa Castaldo; A 'bracing' moment: Reynolds' response to Boswell and Burke on the aesthetics and ethics of public executions, William Levine. Part III Bodies (Im)Politic: Radical pity responding to spectacles of violence in King Lear, John D. Staines; Cutting, branding, whipping, burning: the performance of judicial punishment in early modern England, Sarah Covington; Tortured bodies, factionalism and unsettled loyalties in Settle's Morocco plays, Susan B. Iwanisziw. Part IV Spectacular Failures: Lavinia's rape: reading the Restoration actress's body in pain in Ravenscroft's Titus, Kara Reilly; Sympathy pains: filicide and the spectacle of male heroic suffering on the 18th-century stage, Cecilia A. Feilla; Joanna Baillie and the theater of consequence, James Robert Allard; Bibliography; Index.