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Rewriting history: exploring the individuality of Shakespeare's history plays

Orford, Peter Robert (2006)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

‘Rewriting History’ is a reappraisal of Shakespeare’s history cycle, exploring its origins, its popularity and its effects before challenging its dominance on critical and theatrical perceptions of the history plays. A critical history of the cycle shows how external factors such as patriotism, bardolatory, character-focused criticism and the editorial decision of the First Folio are responsible for the cycle, more so than any inherent aspects of the plays. The performance history of the cycle charts the initial innovations made in the twentieth century which have affected our perception of characters and key scenes in the texts. I then argue how the cycle has become increasingly restrictive, lacking innovation and consequently undervaluing the potential of the histories. Having accounted for the history of the cycle to date, the second part of my thesis looks at the consequent effects upon each history play, and details how each play can be performed and analysed individually. I close my thesis with the suggestion that a compromise between individual and serial perceptions is warranted, where both ideas are acknowledged equally for their effects and defects. By broadening our ideas about these plays we can appreciate the dramatic potential locked within them.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Mason, Pamela and Jowett, John
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
Department:Shakespeare Institute
Subjects:PR English literature
PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1779
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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