Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.606157
Title: Staging the servant : an examination of the roles of household servants in early modern domestic tragedy
Author: Sheeha, Iman
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
In this thesis, I examine the roles of household servants in five early modern English domestic tragedies. Concerned with non-elite households and invariably set in the domestic interior of English houses, the genre had a short life span—between the 1590s and the 1620s. The playwrights who produced the six plays that survive of an all-but-vanished canon foreground household servants, positioning them in the centre of the action, giving them faces and voices, and constructing plots around their agencies and individuated personalities. In conducting this research, I participate in the critical efforts exerted for writing history from below, for recovering the stories of the marginalized, the voiceless and the vanished, particularly of the domestic servant. In early modern England, the practice of household service was a distinctive cultural feature that, nonetheless, has only recently started attracting critical attention. Analyzing the parts of household servants in the anonymous Arden of Faversham (1592), A Warning for Fair Women (1599), A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608), Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness (1607) and William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford’s The Witch of Edmonton (1621), I investigate how playwrights, in staging those servants’ subjectivities, their points of view, interrogate cultural stereotypes reproduced in contemporary conduct books and household manuals, thus participating in re-shaping early modern culture and popular views as much as having their plays shaped by them. I conduct this research by exploring early modern theorizing on the domestic and by examining contemporary ideologies of the institution of domestic service, then reading the scenarios involving servants staged in domestic tragedies in their light. Throughout this thesis, I argue that the theatrical representation of the world of the household servant is important on two levels. First, just as archives, as has been recently argued, could be approached as fiction, fiction can be used as an archive. Hence, the plays serve as a resource for recuperating the voice of the early modern English servant, silenced and marginalized elsewhere in contemporary cultural output. Second, in a culture where the household/state analogy was commonplace, analysis of the staging of the domestic is particularly significant: what takes place in domestic spaces is shaped by and, in turn shapes, debates of political nature. Hence, exploring the domestic situations in those plays through the household servants’ eyes offers insights into attitudes towards contemporary political concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.606157  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater ; PR English literature
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