Late Tudor and Stuart Drama: Gender, Performance and Material Culture

Series introduction

Travelling players, (1605-1615); British Library, Add. MS 18991,

Travelling players, (1605-1615); British Library, Add. MS 18991,

This series provides a forum for monographs and essay collections that investigate the material culture, broadly conceived, of theatre and performance in England from the late Tudor to the pre-Restoration Stuart periods (c. 1550–1650). The editors invite proposals for book-length studies engaging in the material vitality of the dramatic text, political culture, theatre and performance history, theatrical design, performance spaces, gendering court entertainments, child- and adult-actors, music, dance, and audiences in London and on tour. We are also interested in the discursive production of gender, sex, and race in early modern England in relation to material historical, social, cultural, and political structures; changes to and effects of law; monarchy and the republic in dramatic texts; theatre and performance, including performance spaces that are not in theatres. Further topics might include the production and consumption of things and ideas; costumes, props, theatre records and accounts, gendering of spaces and geographies (court, tavern, street, and household, rural or urban), cross-dressing, military or naval excursions, gendered pastimes, games, behaviors, rituals, fashions, transnational encounters, the disabled, and the demonic and their reflection in text and performance.

Keywords: Drama, theatre, performance, material culture, gender, Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

Geographical Scope: United Kingdom

Chronological Scope: c. 1550-1650

Series editor and editorial board

To submit a proposal or completed manuscript to be considered for publication by Medieval Institute Publications or to learn more about the series, please contact Tyler Cloherty, acquisitions editor for the series

The series' Editorial Board comprises:

  • Cristina León Alfar, Hunter College, CUNY, USA, Series Editor
  • Helen Ostovich, McMaster University, Canada, Series Editor

See forthcoming titles in this series.


Cover image of Dismemberment in the Medieval and Early Modern English Imaginary: The Performance of DifferenceDismemberment in the Medieval and Early Modern English Imaginary: The Performance of Difference

By Frederika Elizabeth Bain

The medieval and early modern English imaginary encompasses a broad range of negative and positive dismemberments, from the castration anxieties of Turk plays to the elite practices of distributive burial. This study argues that representations and instances of bodily fragmentation illustrated and performed acts of exclusion and inclusion, detaching not only limbs from bodies but individuals from identity groups. Within this context, it examines questions of legitimate and illegitimate violence, showing that such distinctions largely rested upon particular acts’ assumed symbolic meanings.

ISBN: 978-1-50151-786-0 (clothbound), 978-1-50151-323-7 (PDF), 978-1-50151-295-7 (EPUB) © 2020

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Cover image of New Directions in Early Modern English Drama

New Directions in Early Modern English Drama: Edges, Spaces, Intersections

Edited by Aidan Norrie and Mark Houlahan

This collection examines some of the people, places, and plays at the edge of early modern English drama. Engaging with topics such as child actors, alterity, sexuality, foreignness, and locality, this volume demonstrates the people and concepts long seen as on the edge of early modern English drama made vital contributions both within the fictive worlds of early modern plays, and without, in the real worlds of playmakers, theatres, and audiences.

ISBN: 978-1-50151-821-8 (clothbound), 978-1-50151-374-9 (PDF), 978-1-50151-402-9 (EPUB) © 2020

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Cover image of Roman Woman in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: an early modern ilustration of Roman women, with the title of the book on a blue background

Roman Women in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Edited by Domenico Lovascio

This volume explores with an unprecedented thoroughness and variety of perspectives the diverse issues connected to female identities in the early modern English plays set in ancient Rome. Roman Women in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries puts Shakespeare’s Roman world in dialogue with a number of Roman plays by writers as diverse as Matthew Gwinne, Ben Jonson, John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Thomas May, and Nathanael Richards. Thus, the collection seeks to challenge conventional wisdom about the plays under scrutiny by specifically focusing on their female rather than male characters, as well as sharpening our awareness of the fact that the Roman world on the early modern stage cannot be straightforwardly and simplistically equated with Shakespeare’s.

ISBN: 978-1-50151-856-0 (clothbound), 978-1-50151-420-3 (PDF), 978-1-50151-405-0 (EPUB) © 2020

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Cover image of Convents and Novices in Early Modern English Dramatic Works: a photograph of a modern actress in simple medieval clothing, hand on her chest. The title above on a blue background.

Convents and Novices in Early Modern English Dramatic Works

By Vanessa L. Rapatz

This study examines how the English came to terms with the meanings of convents and novices even after they disappeared from the physical and social landscape. In five chapters, it traces convents and novices across a range of dramatic texts by such writers as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Margaret Cavendish, and Aphra Behn. Convents, novices, and problem plays emerge as parallel sites of ambiguity that reflect the social, political, and religious uncertainties England faced after the Reformation.

ISBN: 978-1-50151-790-7 (clothbound), 978-1-50151-334-3 (PDF), 978-1-50151-314-5 (EPUB) © 2020

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Cover image of Greeks and Trojans on the Early Modern English StageGreeks and Trojans on the Early Modern English Stage

By Lisa Hopkins

The Trojan prince Aeneas was supposedly the ancestor of the Tudors; given the English connection, no story was more interesting to Shakespeare and his contemporaries than that of Troy. This book explores the wide range of allusions to Greece and Troy in plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Chettle, Ford and Beaumont and Fletcher, looking not only at plays actually set in Greece or Troy but also those which draw on characters and motifs from Greek mythology and the Trojan War.

ISBN 978-1-50151-858-4 (clothbound) © 2019

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Cover image of The Unruly Womb in Early Modern English Drama: Plotting Women's Biology on the StageThe Unruly Womb in Early Modern English Drama: Plotting Women's Biology on the Stage

By Ursula A. Potter

This study provides an accessible, informative and entertaining introduction to women’s sexual health as presented on the early modern stage, and how dramatists coded for it. Beginning with the rise of green sickness (the disease of virgins) from its earliest reference in drama in the 1560s, Ursula Potter traces a continuing fascination with the womb by dramatists through to the oxymoron of the chaste sex debate in the 1640s. She illuminates how playwrights both satirized and perpetuated the notion of the womb’s insatiable appetite.

ISBN 978-1-58044-370-8 (clothbound) © 2019

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Cover image of Elizabeth I, the Subversion of Flattery, and John Lyly's Plays and Entertainments: William Adolphe Bouguereau, A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros, about 1880, oil on canvas.Elizabeth I, the Subversion of Flattery, and John Lyly's Plays and Entertainments

By Theodora A. Jankowski

Theodora Jankowski looks at both the light and the dark side of the Elizabeth character in each of John Lyly's court plays, while at the same time considering how that allegory works in terms of the various issues Lyly debates within the plays. She demonstrates how Lyly, while praising the queen and accepting her beneficence, simultaneously manages to present his audiences with the "dark queen," the opposite side of the positive image of the Queen of England.

ISBN 978-1-58044-333-3 (clothbound), 978-1-58044-334-0 (PDF) © 2018

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Forthcoming in this Series

Thomas Middleton and the Plural Politics of Jacobean Drama

By Mark Kaethler

This book represents the first sustained study of Middleton's dramatic works as responses to James I's governance. By examining the double political vision that Middleton and his collaborators' allegory and irony establishes, the work offers an alternative to the popular view of the decider in political theology. The author argues that Middleton's presentation of plural and competing politics in his topical dramatic works serves to counter the image James cultivated of himself through political theology. Drawing upon traditional political allegory as well as popular tracts that emerged during the Jacobean period, such as libels and news, Kaethler examines Middleton's political works ranging from Middleton’s first extant play The Phoenix (1604) to his scandalous finale A Game at Chess (1624).

The Edge of Christendom on the Early Modern English Stage

By Lisa Hopkins

Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the edges of Europe were under pressure from the Ottoman Turks. This book explores how Shakespeare and his contemporaries represented places where Christians encountered Turks, including Malta, Tunis, Hungary, and Armenia. Some forms of Christianity itself might seem alien, so the book also considers the interface between traditional Catholicism, new forms of Protestantism, and Greek and Russian orthodoxy. It also finds the concept of Christendom was under threat in other places, some nearer to home. Edges of Christendom could be found in areas that were or had been pagan, such as Rome itself and the Danelaw, once covering northern England; they could even be found in English homes and gardens, where imported foreign flowers and exotic new ingredients challenged concepts of the native and natural.