The Politics of Tragicomedy: Shakespeare and After offers a series of sophisticated and powerful readings of tragicomedy from Shakespeare’s late plays to the drama of the Interregnum. Rejecting both the customary chronological span bounded by the years 1603-42 (which presumes dramatic activity stopped with the closing of the theatres) and the negative critical attitudes that have dogged the study of tragicomedy, the essays in this collection examine a series of issues central to the possibility of a politics for the genre.
Individual essays offer important contributions to continuing debates over the role of the drama in the years preceding the Civil War, the colonial contexts of The Tempest, the political character of Jonson’s late plays, and the agency of women as public and theatre actors. The introduction presents a strong challenge to previous definitions of tragicomedy in the English context, and the collection as a whole is characterized by its rejection of absolutist strategies for reading tragicomedy.
This collection will prove essential reading for all with an interest in the politics of Renaissance drama; for specialists in the work of Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Jonson; for those interested in genre and dramatic forms; and for historians of early Stuart England.
Table of Contents
List of Contributors. Preface. 1. Introduction: The Politics of Tragicomedy, 1610-50 Gordon McMullan and Jonathan Hope 2. ‘What Cares These Roarers for the Name of King?’: Language and Utopia in The Tempest David Norbrook 3. ‘The Agent for His Master’: Political Service and Professional Liberty in Cymbeline Erica Sheen 4. Topicality or Politics? The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1613-34 Lois Potter 5. ‘A Maidenhead, Amintor, At My Yeares’: Chastity and Tragicomedy in the Fletcher Plays Kathleen McLuskie 6. Prerevolutionary Drama Walter Cohen 7. ‘God Help the Poor: The Rich Can Shift’: The World Upside-Down and the Popular Tradition in the Theatre Margot Heinemann 8. Late Jonson Martin Butler 9. She That Plays the King: Henrietta Maria and the Threat of the Actress in Caroline Culture Sophie Tomlinson. Index.
Gordon McMullan, Jonathan Hope