Shakespeare and the development of verse drama, 1660-2017


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O'Brien, Richard Thomas (2017). Shakespeare and the development of verse drama, 1660-2017. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis offers an account of how verse drama, despite the entrenched cultural significance of Shakespeare, came over time to occupy a marginal, often maligned position within English theatre. The introduction establishes its critical-creative methodology: I approach the question not only as a critic, but as a practitioner exploring what T. S. Eliot called ‘the possibility of a poetic drama’ in the modern world. The first chapter demonstrates how verse dramatists over the last thirty years have been inhibited by continuous comparison to Shakespeare. The remainder of the thesis argues more broadly that verse drama between the Restoration and the present day has articulated itself directly in response to an evolving understanding of Shakespearean drama.

Chapter Two examines Shakespeare’s own dramatic verse as a model which skilfully exploits the dialectic between norm and variation made possible by a shared metrical framework to stage conflicts between individuals and communities. Chapters Three to Five explore in turn how verse dramatists between 1660 and 1956 engaged with the same dialectic, both politically and prosodically. The thesis closes with an extended reflection on my own practice as a contemporary poet-playwright, discussing three scripts where I experimented with counterpointing individuals and communities through dramatic verse.

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, Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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