Military culture of Shakespeare's England

Seo, Dong Ha (2011). Military culture of Shakespeare's England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis examines the development of military culture in, and its effects on, early modern English society. Militarism during the late Elizabethan and early Stuart periods was not reinforced by military institutions directly interfering with the private lives of individuals, or by controlling the thoughts and actions of the whole nation. It was, however, strongly influenced by the culture of a military elite, represented by leading noblemen such as Leicester, Sidney, Essex, and Prince Henry, who paid considerable attention to the theatrical aspects of formal and ceremonial occasions and how their military role was portrayed in art and literature.

Unlike the usual traditional portrayal of these prominent figures as incompetent military leaders who rushed blindly forwards in pursuit of military glory, we will see that through their aristocratic patronage of various art forms they promoted their image as competent Protestant warriors, and helped the public to be receptive to a variety of military ideas.

The principal motivation of this study is to consider a multiplicity of perspectives on how a military culture was constructed, through a variety of genres, and how particular views on military matters were integrated into popular culture. Literary critics and historians have previously examined certain aspects of militarism in this period but this study aims to take a holistic view of how the military culture developed and affected the public sphere.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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