Theatricality, Cheap Print, and the Historiography of the English Civil War
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Until recent years, the historical moment of Charles II's return to England was universally accepted as a clear marker of the end of "the Cavalier winter," a welcome victory over theater-hating Puritans. To verify this historical view, literary historians have often glorified the role of King Charles II in the history of the "revival" of drama during the Restoration, whereas they tend to consider the Long Parliament's 1642 closing of the theaters as a decisive manifestation of Puritans' antitheatricalism. This historical perspective based upon what is often known as "the rupture model" has obscured the vibrant development of dramatic forms during the English civil wars and the ways in which the revolutionary energy exploded during this period continued to influence in the Restoration the deployment of dramatic forms and imagination across various social groups. By focusing on the generic development of drama and theatricality during the English civil wars, my dissertation challenges the conventional historiography of the English civil war literature, which has been overemphasizing the discontinuity between the English civil war and the periods before and after it. The first chapter shows how the theatrical energy displaced from traditional cultural domains energized an emerging cheap print market and contributed to the invention of new dramatic forms such as playlets and newsbooks. The second chapter questions the conventional association of Puritanism and antitheatricalism by rehistoricizing antitheatrical writers and their pamphlets and by highlighting the dramatic impulses at work in Puritan iconoclasm during the English civil wars. The final chapter offers the Restoration Milton as a case study to illustrate how the proposed historical perspective replacing "the rupture model" better explains not only the politics of Milton's Paradise Lost but also of Restoration drama.
Seventeenth Century English Literature
English Civil War
Choi, Jaemin (2010). Theatricality, Cheap Print, and the Historiography of the English Civil War. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from