2014 Theses Doctoral
Subjects of Advice: Drama and Counsel from More to Shakespeare
The dissertation focuses on the relationship between political thinking and dramatic expression in the early modern period, especially in England. I approach this topic by considering what political historians have termed "the problem of counsel"--a vexed issue situated at the very center of Renaissance moral and political philosophy and informing in multiple ways the relationship between sovereign power and its subjects. Because of drama's central concern with the transformation of speech into action as well as its focus on the moral making of the individual, dramatists found in counsel a powerful instrument with which to develop specific kinds of dramatic character, create tension within individual scenes, and provide motivation for dramatic plots. Counsel also proved a convenient, familiar space within which to think through different, often controversial, political ideas and to give them reality and shape in the embodied representations of the stage. By analyzing and contextualizing plays ranging chronologically from Tudor interludes, such as those by Henry Medwall or John Redford, to Jacobean tragedies, notably Shakespeare's King Lear, the dissertation shows how significant counsel was as a shaping force in the construction of different kinds of plays in the period. It also demonstrates how this varied dramatic material itself contributed to the early modern understanding of the theory and practice of counsel.
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More About This Work
- Academic Units
- English and Comparative Literature
- Thesis Advisors
- Kastan, David Scott
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- Published Here
- February 18, 2014