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Title: Topicality and representation : Islam and Muslims in two Renaissance plays
Author: Obaid, Hammood Khalid
ISNI:       0000 0004 2050 7677
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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The primary objective of this thesis is to examine the role played by topical concerns in the "representation" of Muslims and Islam in two important Elizabethan plays. The two plays are George Peele's The Battle of Alcazar (1589) and William Percy's Mahomet and his Heaven (1601). The former play was the first to introduce a Moor in major role, while the latter was the first play to be purportedly based on Quranic material and the first play to present the Prophet of Islam as a dramatic character. My study views topical interests as the major factor informing the depiction of Muslims in both plays and questions the term "representation" of Islam after taking these interests in consideration. My methodology is akin to the New Historicist approach in that it tries to posit a close relationship between the two selected plays and their political and religious milieu. The presence of an ideological commitment in both authors, albeit to different currents of thought, is seen as an important factor that challenges the very idea of a representation of Islam. Briefly, I argue that what we see in these two plays is less a representation of existing knowledge of the Muslim Other, and more a topical construction reflecting very local contemporary issues and events. Chapter One focuses on Peele's Battle of Alcazar as an ideologically-based pro-government work. The play was written shortly after the Spanish Armada in 1588, a time when England was undergoing serious political turmoil. Of special interest is the visit of the first Moroccan ambassador to London in 1589, which probably coincided with the play's performance. Special attention is paid to the dramatic side and characterization in the play with the aim of showing how, in his play, Peele was interested in promoting Queen Elizabeth's new allies, the Moors, more than presenting a good or an evil Moor. Chapter Two studies Percy's Mahomet and hZJ Heaven as the product of a tense and complex set of circumstances relating to both the playwright and late Elizabethan England. Contemporary views on magic, women, and the Catholic-Protestant schism all play a role in forming the final outcome which constructs a topical allegory of England rather than a representation of Islamic Arabia. Together, my analyses of these important plays show that the Muslim figure was, more often than not, constructed from topical and local material that was hardly based on original existing knowledge about Islam. In my conclusion, I suggest that the same may be true of other plays and texts of the period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available