Date: December 2006
Creator: Reynolds, Paige Martin
Description: My dissertation focuses on representations of women and ritual on the Renaissance stage, situating such examples within the context of the Protestant Reformation. The renegotiation of the value, place, and power of ritual is a central characteristic of the Protestant Reformation in early modern England. The effort to eliminate or redirect ritual was a crucial point of interest for reformers, for most of whom the corruption of religion seemed bound to its ostentatious and idolatrous outer trappings. Despite the opinions of theologians, however, receptivity toward the structure, routine, and familiarity of traditional Catholicism did not disappear with the advent of Protestantism. Reformers worked to modify those rituals that were especially difficult to eradicate, maintaining some sense of meaning without portraying confidence in ceremony itself. I am interested in how early Protestantism dealt with the presence of elements (in worship, daily practice, literary or dramatic representation) that it derogatorily dubbed popish, and how women had a particular place of importance in this dialogue. Through the drama of Shakespeare, Webster, and Middleton, along with contemporary religious and popular sources, I explore how theatrical representations of ritual involving women create specific sites of cultural and theological negotiation. These representations both reflect and resist ...
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