Catalogue


Shakespeare's tribe : church, nation, and theater in Renaissance England /
Jeffrey Knapp.
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.
description
xvi, 277 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0226445690 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.
isbn
0226445690 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4687737
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Most contemporary critics characterize Shakespeare and his tribe of fellow playwrights and players as resolutely secular, interested in religion only as a matter of politics or as a rival source of popular entertainment. Yet as Jeffrey Knapp demonstrates in this radical new reading, a surprising number of writers throughout the English Renaissance, including Shakespeare himself, represented plays as supporting the cause of true religion. To be sure, Renaissance playwrights rarely sermonized in their plays, which seemed preoccupied with sex, violence, and crime. During a time when acting was regarded as a kind of vice, many theater professionals used their apparent godlessness to advantage, claiming that it enabled them to save wayward souls the church could not otherwise reach. The stage, they argued, made possible an ecumenical ministry, which would help transform Reformation England into a more inclusive Christian society. Drawing on a variety of little-known as well as celebrated plays, along with a host of other documents from the English Renaissance,Shakespeare's Tribechanges the way we think about Shakespeare and the culture that produced him. Winner of the Best Book in Literature and Language from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly division, the Conference on Christianity and Literature Book Award, and the Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-01-01:
Knapp (Univ. of California, Berkeley) succeeds in tracing some of the more conservative, providential ideas in Shakespeare's thinking to the poet's moderate Anglicanism. He believes that Shakespeare was essentially a providentialist poet who put his drama in the service of a political theology that sought to sacralize sovereignty. The author is particularly adept at signaling the importance of Shakespeare's relation to Ben Jonson. Especially important to Knapp's thesis are Henry V and King John, which Knapp places in a significant new light. Knapp's sense of Shakespeare's "religiosity" adduces at once the conventionality and the innovation of Shakespeare's invention of new verbal economies of law and conscience. The essence of Shakespeare's gospel is "toleration of pretense," which is essential to what Knapp calls "the protheatrical tradition," which is transmitted, precisely, by "Shakespeare's tribe." Players do in fact become true preachers precisely because preachers have been reduced to mere players. Like Greenblatt and others, Knapp sees the regulative function of Shakespearean drama (and its epigones from Middleton to Jasper Mayne) as that of dispensing pardons, of selling indulgences, of trafficking in sham sacraments. Shakespeare's "accommodationism" shuns excess but also tolerates a degree of self-deception. A finely nuanced and original piece of work; highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. N. Lukacher University of Illinois at Chicago
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 2003
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Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Elizabeth A. Kaye specializes in communications as part of her coaching and consulting practice. She has edited Requirements for Certification since the 2000-01 edition.
Main Description
Most contemporary critics characterize Shakespeare and his tribe of fellow playwrights and players as resolutely secular, interested in religion only as a matter of politics or as a rival source of popular entertainment. Yet as Jeffrey Knapp demonstrates in this radical new reading, a surprising number of writers throughout the English Renaissance, including Shakespeare himself, represented plays as supporting the cause of true religion. To be sure, Renaissance playwrights rarely sermonized in their plays, which seemed preoccupied with sex, violence, and crime. During a time when acting was regarded as a kind of vice, many theater professionals used their apparent godlessness to advantage, claiming that it enabled them to save wayward souls the church could not otherwise reach. The stage, they argued, made possible an ecumenical ministry, which would help transform Reformation England into a more inclusive Christian society. Drawing on a variety of little-known as well as celebrated plays, along with a host of other documents from the English Renaissance, Shakespeare's Tribe changes the way we think about Shakespeare and the culture that produced him. Winner of the Best Book in Literature and Language from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly division, the Conference on Christianity and Literature Book Award, and the Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Drawing on a variety of little-known and celebrated plays, along with a host of other documents from the English Renaissance, Shakespeare's Tribe demonstrates the surprising number of writers who wrote in support of religion.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Good Fellows
England and Christendom
Rogue Nationalism
This Blessed Plot
Church and Theater
Preachers and Players
Pseudo-Christianity
Epilogue
Rogue Frequencies
Autolycus
Poetry as Cozenage
Notes Works Cited
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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