English Drama in the Sixteenth Century
This book examines the hundred years of drama preceding Shakespeare in the light of a critical problem: English drama at the beginning of the sixteenth century was allegorical, didactic, and moralistic; but by the end of the century theatre was censured as emotional and even immoral. How could such a change occur? Kent Cartwright suggests that some theories of early Renaissance theatre - particularly the theory that Elizabethan plays are best seen in the tradition of morality drama - need to be reconsidered. He proposes instead that humanist drama of the sixteenth century is theatrically exciting - rather than literary, elitist, and dull as it has often been seen - and socially significant, and he attempts to integrate popular and humanist values rather than setting them against each other. Taking as examples plays by writers from Medwall and Heywood to Marlowe, Lyly, and Greene, as well as many by lesser-known dramatists, the book demonstrates the contribution of humanist drama to the theatricalvital ity of the sixteenth century.
KENT CARTWRIGHT is Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has published on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and American fiction. His previous books are Shakespearean Tragedy and its Double: The Rhythms of Audience Response (1991) and Othello: New Perspectives (1991), which he edited with Virginia Mason Vaughan.