In this essay collection, the contributors contend that academic drama represents an important, but heretofore understudied, site of cultural production in early modern England. Focusing on plays that were written and performed in academic environments such as Oxford University, Cambridge University, grammar schools, and the Inns of Court, the scholars investigate how those plays strive to give dramatic coherence to issues of religion, politics, gender, pedagogy, education, and economics. Of particular significance are the shifting political and religious contentions that so frequently shaped both the cultural questions addressed by the plays, and the sorts of dramatic stories that were most conducive to the exploration of such questions. The volume argues that the writing and performance of academic drama constitute important moments in the history of education and the theater because, in these plays, narrative is consciously put to work as both a representation of, and an exercise in, knowledge formation. The plays discussed speak to numerous segments of early modern culture, including the relationship between the academy and the state, the tensions between humanism and religious reform, the successes and failures of the humanist program, the social profits and economic liabilities of formal education, and the increasing involvement of universities in the commercial market, among other issues.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction, Jonathan Walker; Gown before crown: scholarly abjection and academic entertainment under Queen Elizabeth I, Linda Shenk; Christopherson at Cambridge: Greco-Catholic ethics in the Protestant university, Paul D. Streufert; The spectre of the shrew and the lash of the rod: gendering pedagogy in The Disobedient Child, Ursula Potter; The government of performance: Ignoramus and the micropolitics of tutor-student relations, Emily D. Bryan; Theatrical experiment and the production of knowledge in the Gray's Inn Revels, Eric Leonidas; Fantastical distempers: the psychopathology of early modern scholars, Sarah Knight; Cambridge at sea: Byrsa Basilica and the commercialization of Knowledge, Helen Higbee; Drama in the academies of early America, Odai Johnson; Collected Bibliography; Index.
’Early Modern Academic Drama is an admirably coherent anthology, with chapters linked by an important central thesis: while drama is central to humanist educational conventions and aims, such works also probe the gap between ’’practices and ideals’’, exploring the relationship between humanist pedagogy and the civically-minded critical, but loyal, subject that such pedagogy was supposed to develop.’ Renaissance Quarterly 'Early Modern Academic Drama, edited by Jonathan Walker and Paul Streufert, is a vital re-evaluation of the performance cultures of Early Modern educational institutions. ... A major strength of this collection is the connections between individual essays which foreground crucial topics but approach[es] them from diverse perspectives.' Parergon 'The publication of Early Modern Academic Drama is at once overdue and timely... The quality and variety of essays in Jonathan Walker and Paul D. Streufert's collection is commendable, and one leaves the volume energized by the groundbreaking material it contains.' English Studies