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Title: A coming of age : drama at St John's College, Oxford in the early modern period
Author: Sandis, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 7820
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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In charting the remarkable rise of St John's College, Oxford, from struggling, new-born foundation in 1555 to spectacular host of King Charles and Queen Henrietta in 1636, I demonstrate how the theatrical tradition developed by the community of St John's men negotiated and articulated their college's political and economic transformation. My research has uncovered the centrality of drama to college life and the fundamental significance of collegiate identity and tradition to the university men, showing that if we are to build a synoptic view of 'university drama' in early modern England, we must construct it from an understanding of 'college drama'. Deep into the eighteenth century the culture of Latin writing and speaking at Oxford and Cambridge continued to shape all aspects of life in the academies, and yet it is the comparatively few plays written in English which have received the most attention, leading to a distorted view of the university drama. My approach is to restore the neglected Latin sources to their rightful place at the heart of the investigation and, by providing a combination of close textual analysis and translation, to push forward their integration into the mainstream of English Renaissance theatre criticism. Chapter 1 examines the intercollegiate networks which supported St John's College in the early days of its development as a centre for drama, highlighting Christ Church's role as an older, richer sibling to its up-and-coming rival. Chapter 2 analyses the communal function of the college drama, demonstrating that, although each performance was the creative work of individual writers and performers, it relied upon the investment of the college membership as a whole. In Chapter 3 I highlight the influence which changing practices in student recruitment had on the pedagogical and theatrical culture of the community over time, identifying the particular impact of the 'Mulcaster generation' on St John's at the turn of the seventeenth century. Chapter 4 connects drama, politics, and religion to show how ambitious alumni such as Archbishop-Chancellor William Laud used the college stage to test and groom potential protégés; students proving themselves before peers, patrons, and sometimes even royalty, performed a rite of passage which enhanced their career prospects.
Supervisor: Bate, Jonathan ; Poole, William Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available