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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the complex role played by religion in Jonson’s life; his relationship to the theatre; his works in various genres (plays, poetry, and masques), and in the critical reception of his writings. It considers the biographical evidence surrounding Jonson’s multiple religious conversions within the broader context of recusancy culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. It then examines some of the ways in which religion is represented in his plays and how this influenced and was shaped by the changes in religious culture that characterized Jonson’s lengthy professional career from the 1590s until the 1630s. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the relationship between religion and the theatre as it impacted upon Jonson’s writing and his own instrumentality—as a key cultural player—in redefining that relationship in early modern England.

Keywords: Catholic, Puritan, recusant, Scripture, conversion, Laudian, Arminian, poet, theatre

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