For many years the study of pre-seventeenth-century English drama was shaped largely by an understanding that everything written revolved around the individual author, either as part of the tradition that prepared the way for Shakespeare or as part of his legacy.
Now twenty-five original essays by leading theorists and historians chart a paradigmatic shift within the field. In contrast to the traditional emphasis on individual authors, the contributors here explore the place of the stage within the larger society, as well as issues of performance and physical space.
The essays are organized into three sections: "Early English Drama and Physical Space" examines the settings in which plays were acted; "Early English Drama and Social Space" juxtaposes the theater with such contemporary subcultures as the church, the city, and the court. Finally, "Early English Drama and Conditions of Performance and Publication" explores a wide range of material conditions and contexts, from props to printers.
A major summary of contemporary scholarship and a storehouse of new theoretical and historical information, A New History of Early English Drama
skillfully illustrates the complex influence of physical and social elements woven into the texts, and provides an innovative approach to literary studies and cultural history.