The presence of God in post-reformation English drama, 1559 - 1642

Tasker, Janet Elizabeth (2022). The presence of God in post-reformation English drama, 1559 - 1642. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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From 1565 the anthropomorphic representation of God in new drama ceased and he apparently exited from the stage-world. This thesis tracks the emergence of a robust system of representation in post-Reformation English drama, that complicates the dominant scholarly narrative of post-1580 secularised drama. It identifies playwrights’ creative ways of integrating God in plays written across the period 1559 – 1642. These include his internalisation within protagonists, frame narratives with God-substitutes managing characters’ lives, character articulations of faith, and the activities of the Devil and his minions. The thesis asserts that these representations reflected and contributed to changing Reformation theology by illustrating a revised understanding of God’s nature, offering audiences a bird’s-eye view of divine control, and recalling God’s constant presence in human lives. Finally, I assert that the late tragicomedies’ providential solutions to seemingly insoluble differences reassured audiences facing similar real-world tensions. The explicitly divine nature of these plays’ outcomes demonstrates a change in the genre’s form, challenging received wisdom of genre theory. This thesis then rediscovers the ‘absent’ God, hiding in the play world.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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