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Title: 'Cross-over' comedy in seventeenth-century England : from Michaelmas Term to the Roundheads
Author: Bancroft, V.
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis discusses the significance of those comedies written and performed in the years immediately prior to and during the English Civil War, which were (re)written and (re)performed at the Restoration of the English monarchy in the 1660s. The “cross-over” comedies have been dismissed as leftovers from the last days of the playhouses before their closure in 1642, their revival in the Restoration seen as dictated by the scarcity of available new texts. This thesis argues instead that these comedies were carefully selected and revised in order to appeal to Charles II and new Restoration audiences. The genesis of “cross-over” comedy is initially analysed in a general discussion of examples by authors such as John Fletcher, Thomas Middleton, and Richard Brome. Abraham Cowley‟s Cutter of Coleman Street is closely compared with his earlier version The Guardian, identifying revisions with resonance for the Restoration. The huge influence of Thomas Killigrew and Sir William Davenant on the development of English comedy is reflected in analyses of Killigrew‟s self-reflexivity in The Parson’s Wedding, and of Davenant‟s revisions to William Shakespeare‟s plays. Davenant‟s depiction of Wit in his “cross-over” comedy The Wits is compared with John Fletcher‟s “cross-over” comedy Wit Without Money. Reference is made to comedies by Sir Robert Howard and John Wilson which did not themselves “cross over” but which nevertheless comment on “cross-over” themes, particularly those of inheritance. The thesis concludes with a discussion of John Tatham‟s topical satire, The Rump, which “crosses over” as Aphra Behn‟s adaptation The Roundheads. ii The “cross-over” comedies had a significant impact on the development of English comedy in the Restoration and even into the early eighteenth century. Thomas Jordan‟s The Walks of Islington and Hogsdon, licensed for first performance in 1641, printed in 1657, re-performed in the years surrounding the Restoration, and subsequently re-printed in 1663, is shown to influence William Wycherley, Thomas Shadwell, and John Gay. Although the “cross-over” comedies flourished only briefly, then, their importance as a cultural and dramatic phenomenon has been underestimated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral