‘My Picture I Enjoin Thee to Keep’: the function of portraits in English drama, 1558-1642

Wassersug, Yolana (2015). ‘My Picture I Enjoin Thee to Keep’: the function of portraits in English drama, 1558-1642. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis considers how visual art is expressed within English drama during the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline periods, through studying how portraits are used in performance and narrative. The first part of the thesis, consisting of Chapters One and Two, is concerned with the stage. It explores the range of different functions that a portrait could have in a play, and considers the challenges of bringing these objects onto the stage. The following three chapters make up the second part of the thesis; which shifts focus from the way portraits were used on stage as signifiers, to a consideration of what they signify. Chapter Three explores how characters use portraiture to promote their identity and advertise individuality. It argues for a re-thinking of the significance of ‘life-like’ painting, arguing that portraits can be markers of identity even without necessarily capturing likeness accurately. Chapter Four is about the functions that portraits have as love tokens and within courtship narratives, arguing that they expose the often-flimsy distinction between lust and love. The final chapter addresses the magical and metaphysical aspects of portraiture, and considers their role in witchcraft and murder narratives, but also their metaphorical potential to ‘hold’ the soul of the person that they depict, and therefore function as commemorative objects.

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: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5935


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