The meaning of massacre in English Renaissance drama, 1572-1642

Lucas, Georgina Mary (2016). The meaning of massacre in English Renaissance drama, 1572-1642. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The PhD examines the web of meanings elicited by and constructed around the act and concept of massacre in English Renaissance drama. The study is underpinned by two contentions. The first is that the enactment of massacre, both on and off-stage, is often predicated upon the same kinds of fictive and imaginative processes inherent to dramatic practice. The second is that the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris was instrumental to conceptualisations of Renaissance massacre. Bartholomew, along with its most flagrant dramatic depiction, Christopher Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris (1593), anchors every part of the study. The thesis is split thematically into three sections, each of which contains two chapters. The first part explores the language of massacre. Chapter 1 examines the denotations and connotations of the word massacre in French and English. Chapter 2 looks at the means through which the rhetoric of massacre reports prompt emotional responses in readers and spectators. Part two investigates the relationship between massacre and the state. Chapter 3 explores massacres committed from ‘above’ by ruling or de facto powers. Chapter 4 considers inverse phenomena – massacres committed from ‘below’ – by usurpers, lesser magistrates, and private individuals. The final part examines the relationship between massacre and warfare. Chapter 5 explores massacres committed by external forces – from ‘without’ – and explores the contribution of massacre to wars of conquest, sieges, and sacks. Chapter 6 addresses massacres committed ‘within’, examining inter-state conflicts and the internal logic of battle. The thesis concludes by gesturing to the continuation of key theorisations of massacres after the closure of the theatres in 1642.

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: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater


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