Reinterpreting Troilus and Cressida: changing perceptions in literary criticism and British performance

Brown, Joanne Elizabeth (2017). Reinterpreting Troilus and Cressida: changing perceptions in literary criticism and British performance. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Troilus and Cressida is the unusual instance of a Shakespearean play which had long been read and commented upon before stage practitioners explored it in the theatre. My thesis examines the changing perceptions of the play’s characters, paying attention to the chronological relationship between revisions in literary criticism, much of which was written with little proximity to performance, with reinterpretations during its British stage history. The thesis has a particular focus on issues of gender and sexuality. Both the theatre and literary criticism reflected and responded to social change in their dealings with this play, but they did so at different moments. By using the case of Troilus and Cressida, I examine whether theatrical practice or academic literary criticism has acted as the more efficient cultural barometer. Revisions of Cressida are my central example and I also examine the reinterpretations of eight other characters. The delayed acceptance of the play into the theatre means that the claims of relevance become especially acute. Despite the perceived progressive potential of performance, I conclude that theatrical representations of characters in this play have been slow to change in relation to the revisions seen on the pages of literary criticism.

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 > PR English literature


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