The aesthetic principles of education and representation that Yeats and Gregory set out at the founding of the Abbey Theatre enabled the directorate to cultivate a relationship with the state that ensured the theatre’s place as the Irish National Theatre. Yet this was a relationship that demanded compromises on both sides—in the negotiation for a state subsidy, finally granted in 1925, in issues of censorship over controversial plays such as The Plough and the Stars in 1926, and in the uneasy relationship with the Fianna Fáil government that came to power in 1932. Even so, at least during Yeats’s lifetime, the Abbey directors were able to resist the complete ideological co-option of the theatre, and any compromises to artistic freedom were made willingly in order to ensure the continued alliance of the theatre and the state.
This article focuses on the Ranters, who have been described as ‘forming the extreme left wing of the sects’, both theologically and politically. Combining a ‘pantheistic mysticism and a crudely plebeian materialism’ with a ‘deep concern for the poor’ and a ‘primitive biblical communism’, the ‘Ranter Movement’ spectacularly manifested itself in late 1649, peaked the next year, and then splintered under the hammer of ‘savage repression’ Special attention is given to Abiezer Coppe (1619–72?), whom some contemporaries regarded as a fiery sectarian preacher turned diabolically possessed mad libertine. So blackened was Coppe's name that in the late eighteenth century he was still remembered as one of the wildest enthusiasts of a fanatical age. Nineteenth-century critics concurred with this verdict, calling Coppe a ‘strange enthusiast’ and the ‘great Ranter’.
This article examines the relationship between literary critical practice and human rights, and describes the present uses of literary criticism. It analyzes an example of abolitionism and activism as it was conceived and practiced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison. The article evaluates how our understanding of texts and issues today can be informed by our analysis and understanding of the myths and metaphors of who we are that we have inherited from earlier literatures and movements.
This article discusses the satires of Samuel Butler, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden. All three authors convey a strongly satirical take on the volatile Zeitgeist — its mood of damaged and shaky authority — but their modes of rejection are politically and stylistically distinct. Butler tends toward a poetics of the absurd that drains recent events of larger meaning. Marvell's satirical processing of historical reversals emphasizes a piquant element of the perverse. Dryden favours a counterpoint of the grotesque and baroque. Each of the three satirists tends to pit the small and the domestic against the overblown. All three reject what they see as brainless attitudes toward recent history, narcotized manifestations of the oblivious, the forgetful, and the soothingly dull. There can be no question in their satires of merely rehabilitating the mystique of olden times. And though their satires reject present-day chaos, they do so by way of trying out newly domesticated and denaturalized configurations of authority.
This article examines the acquisition of wisdom through literary text in medieval England. The most famous collections of wisdom in the Middle Ages were found in two Old Testament books attributed to King Solomon, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes which contains aphorisms, often arranged around themes and at times profoundly enigmatic in style. Old English epic poems, including Beowulf to Geoffrey Chaucer's Miller's Tale, also offered the medieval reader a measure of common sense with which to understand the chaos of human existence. This article suggests that the unlettered were not ignorant of the traditional knowledge of their society because a store of wisdom was preserved and transmitted in memorable sayings, proverbs, and maxims.
This chapter examines the critical discourse on acting in early Chinese cinema, and particularly the ways in which the contrast of film acting with stage acting exemplified broader rhetorics of realism, modernity, and scientism in semicolonial China following the May Fourth Movement. An emphasis on realism and mimesis in cinema rather than the formalism and semiosis of traditional Chinese art forms was part of a broader contemporary interest in the idea of objective representation. At the same time, the close-up in particular was thought to demand a new style of “interior performance” in which character emotions were felt by the actor and conveyed through the eyes and face with the purpose of “moving” modern audiences with authenticity. Nonetheless, claims for the unique realism of the film medium must be viewed in light of the growing dominance of realism in all the arts, including theater.
Russ Castronovo and Dana D. Nelson
This article examines what can be learned from nineteenth-century American literature regarding twenty-first-century citizenship. It investigates how the intellectual project of reading and interpreting American literature can prepare us for the deliberative work of democracy and what American literature tells us about this difficult relationship. The article explores how literature can be read politically, and describes the relevant works of Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown.
This article examines the debate over the vita activa versus the vita contemplativa in England across the late medieval and early modern periods. After considering the inversion of the traditional hierarchy of contemplative life over active life as the defining paradigm shift of modernity, it explains how contemplation and the contemplative enterprise offered a vocabulary and a conceptual framework for Francis Bacon’s sense of his own project. It also analyzes Margaret Cavendish’s appropriation of intellectual stances and methods associated with the contemplative life.
This chapter explores the ‘aesthetics of catastrophe’ that informs the stage experiments of the period, epitomized by Edward Gordon Craig’s essay-manifesto of 1909, ‘The Actor and the Übermarionette’, one of many anti-theatrical tracts of early modernist theatre whose aim, paradoxically, was to ‘retheatricalize’ an art form that many felt had been dulled by realism. Anti-theatrical stage experiments, frequently located within the physical, semantic/representational, and ideological contours of the performing body, were deeply influenced by puppets, masks, robots, and automata. These are the focus of Taxidou’s discussion as writing on puppets by Arthur Symons, Walter Pater, and Oscar Wilde are charted, in conjunction with the work of Heinrich von Kleist, Charles Baudelaire (on dolls), and the actual puppet theatres of France and Italy that were so influential at the end of the nineteenth century.
When Quince first meets his actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he tells them who they will be playing and a little about their fictional characters. He also distributes to the actors their ‘parts’, the pieces of paper on which their words are written. Walking away from the meeting, the actors take their paper parts with them for memorising at home: by the time they next gather together, each player must be word-perfect. So the players are going to learn from a text that is only ‘part’ of the play — an idea so strange to scholars that it is still regularly called into question. Passages in plays of the time referring to what is rehearsed often suggest that the verbal content of a play is not the emphasis of collective rehearsal; that a general rehearsal is largely intended to determine action that affects the group. Parts had their effect on the way a performance was watched. With parts informing so fundamentally the way actors performed and audiences watched, they must also have affected the way playwrights wrote.