The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage

The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage

The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage

The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage

Synopsis

Garrett A. Sullivan explores the ways in which a range of early modern plays - including King Lear the anonymous Arden of Faversham - intervene in the reconceptualisation of land and land ownership in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Excerpt

The title of this book may read to some as the odd yoking of incompatible categories. After all, landscape seems to have precious little to do with drama. Moreover, the period under discussion precedes the heyday of English landscape painting and country-house poetry. It is this book's aim, however, to complicate our understanding of what is and can be meant by the seemingly simple term "landscape." The purpose of this introduction is twofold: to offer an alternative, drawn from the discipline of human geography, to conceptions of landscape associated with poetry and the graphic arts; and to argue for the crucial nature of that alternative not only to the study of early modern drama but to the way in which we configure the social relations that emerge around and on the land.

"Landscape" is a familiar term, but its very familiarity has blinded us to its relevance to the early modern theater. The term most immediately suggests either a view of a particular location or the representation in words or pictorial images of that location. These two meanings are unpacked by Denis Cosgrove, a geographer whose work on landscape is important to my project:

Between the early fifteenth century and the late nineteenth century, at first in Italy and Flanders and then throughout western Europe the idea of landscape came to denote the artistic and literary representation of the visible world, the scenery (literally that which is seen) which is viewed by a . . .

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