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Title: Oaths and bonds in early modern drama
Author: Stacey, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 7325
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis will investigate the structural forms which emerge when the custom of swearing is regarded as the central organising principle of the plot. Studies of dramatic structure and oath-taking in Renaissance scholarship have been curiously neglected in recent years; my work is intended to redress this balance by arguing that the representation of mimetic action in early modern culture is unusually focussed at the moment of pledging. It will draw on recent critical interest in rhetoric and utterance, as well as the contextual pressures which shape the construction of narrative, to offer a detailed examination of the intricate and contested relationship between language and action on the Renaissance stage. This thesis will consider the temporal properties of pledging across a range of plays, from the 1580s to the Caroline era. The breadth of study will demonstrate the pervasiveness of narratological models shaped by swearing to early modern dramatists through the period, whilst also considering its use as a form of influence. It will also demonstrate the range of creative responses to this structure by considering the different generic forms which pledging helps to facilitate, including revenge tragedy, roman drama, history plays, seventeenth century sex tragedy and the looser, more hybrid plots of the late period. Each chapter will begin with a study of the salient features of a particular social or cultural area in which swearing occurs, drawing on a range of contemporary sources, followed by an exploration of the actions opened up by the making of an oath in two plays. In some chapters the works will share obvious aesthetic influences; in others, they will be responsive to a mutual interest in a precise form of cultural pledging. The original contributions made by this thesis to knowledge are three-fold. First, the placing of dramatic structure in the context of swearing will complement other recent developments in the contextualisation of narrative form; second, it will shed light on the authorial structures inherent in the linguistic formulation of swearing, which seek to channel the scope for self-agency into regulated patterns of action; and third, it will promote a revised model of pledging, in which the rhetorical ingenuity of making an oath will open up the possibility for actions which are not always anticipated by the terms of the original bond.
Supervisor: Paul, Hammond Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available