Essays by David Bergeron and Peter Byrne take up questions of genre, while Susan Anderson discusses strategies of representation in early Jacobean pageantry. Bergeron focuses on Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay as a way to think through larger questions of history and its relationship to art. Against the view that Greene's comedy contains 'bogus history', Bergeron claims that the play makes serious contributions to an expanded historical consciousness characteristic of the late sixteenth century. Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, he argues, not only reflects but also creates history through fictional narrative itself. Byrne's subject is dramatic tragedy, particularly Ben Jonson's rejoinder in Sejanus to his peers' meta-theatrical efforts at reform within the tragic genre. Recasting in a satiric vein the overreaching protagonists created by Marlowe and Shakespeare, Sejanus 'formalize[d] the mimetic and emotional aspects of the theatrical experience' and prompts 'intellectual detachment ... in order to criticize the enervating effect of generically anarchic composition'. Anderson's essay offers new research on the civic entertainment staged in Chester on St George's Day, 1610. Reading the printed commemorative description entitled Chesters Triumph in Honor of Her Prince together with related documents such as payment records, Anderson's careful attention to this occasion's musical elements deepens our knowledge of the complex political and symbolic strategies found in civic pageantry more broadly.
Following these six essays, Peter Kirwan and Erin Julian present two substantial pieces reviewing recent trends in Ben Jonson scholarship. Readers of Kirwan's essay will find a usefully organized overview and assessment of The Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson, published in 2012 in seven print volumes. Julian, in turn, judiciously considers four separate critical studies: Ian Donaldson's biography Ben Jonson: A Life, Matthew Steggle's critical guide to Volpone, Victoria Moul's monograph Jonson, Horace, and the Classical Tradition, and A.D. Cousins and Alison Scott's edited collection Ben Jonson and the Politics of Genre.
We would like to thank Roberta Barker formally for her service as book review editor since 2005, when she trained with our former editor Karen Bamford (Mount Allison) to take over the position. From 2006 to 2012 she tackled Early Theatre's book reviews with zeal, finding both junior and senior scholars to report on what was new in the field of theatre-related monographs and essay-collections, and she certainly ensured that those reviews came in on time. In training our current book review editor, Peter Kirwan, she passed on her concept of reviews as a meaningful part of how this journal contributes to and fosters collaborative scholarly conversation. We are happy to announce that Roberta has now accepted a position on our editorial board, bringing our total number to sixteen stellar members with varied published interests in theatre history and performance studies. We welcome Roberta warmly to this board and look forward to many years of her support.
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|Title Annotation:||on theater criticism|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2014|
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