Shakespeares Unreformed Fictions

Hardcover | July 15, 2013

byGillian Woods

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Why does Catholicism have such an imaginative hold on Shakespearean drama, even though the on-going Reformation outlawed its practice? Shakespeare's Unreformed Fictions contends that the answers to this question are theatrical rather than strictly theological. Avoiding biographicalspeculation, this book concentrates on dramatic impact, and thoroughly integrates new literary analysis with fresh historical research. In exploring the dramaturgical variety of the "Catholic" content of Shakespeare's plays, Gillian Woods argues that habits, idioms, images, and ideas lose their denominational clarity when translated into dramatic fiction: they are awkwardly "unreformed" rather than doctrinally Catholic. Providingnuanced readings of generically diverse plays, this book emphasises the creative function of such unreformed material, which Shakespeare uses to pose questions about the relationship between self and other. A wealth of contextual evidence is studied, including catechisms, homilies, religiouspolemics, news quartos, and non-Shakespearean drama, to highlight how early modern Catholicism variously provoked nostalgia, faith, conversion, humour, fear, and hatred. This book argues that Shakespeare exploits these contradictory attitudes to frame ethical problems, creating fictional plays that consciously engage audiences in the difficult leaps of faith required by both theatre and theology. By recognizing the playfulness of Shakespeare's unreformed fictions,this book offers a different perspective on the interactions between post-Reformation religion and the theatre, and an alternative angle on Shakespeare's interrogation of the scope of dramatic fiction.

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Why does Catholicism have such an imaginative hold on Shakespearean drama, even though the on-going Reformation outlawed its practice? Shakespeare's Unreformed Fictions contends that the answers to this question are theatrical rather than strictly theological. Avoiding biographicalspeculation, this book concentrates on dramatic impact,...

Gillian Woods is a Lecturer in Renaissance Theatre and Drama at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published on a range of early modern drama, including works by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Ford and Anthony Munday.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.1 inPublished:July 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199671265

ISBN - 13:9780199671267

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Table of Contents

IntroductionIncorporating the Past in 1 Henry VI Converting Names in Love's Labour's LostSeeming Difference in Measure for Measure and All's Well that Ends WellAffecting Possession in King LearKnowing Fiction in The Winter's TaleBibliography