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Sarah Carpenter

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From the late 1530s, when the translation of the Scriptures into English was authorised, there rapidly developed a new book-body of lay Bible-readers with new practices of reading and interpretation of the Bible. While the traditional biblical drama of the late middle ages was gradually suppressed or abandoned, a new generation of plays on scriptural subjects emerged, written by and addressed to these new readers. This paper explores the ways in which mid-sixteenth-century playwrights responded to the lively culture of Bible-reading in the early years of the Reformation. Increased focus on the literal, social and ethical implications of biblical stories guided playwrights towards a greatly expanded body of powerful narratives, which raised challenging human issues, allowing strong theatrical interpretation in relation to contemporary concerns. But the new theatrical strategies do not always sit quite comfortably with the special status accorded by Protestantism to the Bible as the word of God. These Reformation plays begin to suggest crucial tensions between drama and doctrine, inadvertently reinforcing the gradually increasing Protestant unease with the stage as a forum in which to address the Bible.


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Sarah Carpenter and Sarah M. Dunnigan

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"Joyous Sweit Imaginatioun"

Essays on Scottish Literature in Honour of R.D.S. Jack

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This volume gathers together essays on Scottish literature, diverse in historical period, mode, and form in honour of Professor R.D.S. Jack, Professor Emeritus of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Chronologically, the collection sweeps from the early middle ages to the early twentieth century, from Robert Henryson to J.M. Barrie, conveying a sense of the shifting and subtle identities and continuities of Scottish literary traditions across the centuries, and opening up, through a distinctive and unusual range of writers and texts, unfamiliar aesthetic, cultural, and linguistic landscapes. Unusual and wide-ranging in subject and scope, the volume explores Scottish medieval romance and allegory, Renaissance court performance, early modern travel writing, seventeenth-century poetry, Sir Thomas Urquhart’s universal language theory, Scottish Romanticism, Burns and Barrie. Shared threads of interest run through the collection: a questioning of the canonical; attentiveness to questions of language, rhetoric, and form; and a commitment to uncovering the dynamic interaction between European and Scottish traditions. Collectively, the volume charts a new series of imaginative cross-currents across historical periods and literary modes, attesting the importance of, and necessity for, a critical vision of Scottish literature which is pluralistic, comparative, and sensitive to form, mode, and rhetoric.