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Title: 'Sur le patron de plusieurs bons autheurs italiens' : poetics, performance and politics in French comic drama (1540-1580)
Author: Rayfield, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 1847
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is the first study of the reinvention of French comic theatre from 1540-1580 and of the productive and at times antagonistic relationship of French playwrights with Italian paradigms. Using close textual and historical analysis, my study documents the move from classical comedy regarded as a scholarly exercise to drama revived in print and performance, which was anything but a smooth transition. I employ as a framework for this exploration the three material conditions of poetics, performance, and politics, which connect and overlap to create an intertextual and cross-cultural survey of the changing status of French comedy and of the key role played in its reinvention by Italian sources. In terms of poetics, I trace the difficulties faced by France's earliest playwrights and theoreticians in their bid to prove comedy to be a viable mode of humanist literary production, examining the apathetic and sometimes contentious discussions of their contemporaries regarding comic theatre and its Italian exemplars. Moving to performance, I consider the effects of Italian comic performances in France throughout the mid-century, demonstrating how these productions acted as persuasive evidence to French writers that comedy was worthy of a place within their national literature. My enquiry into politics evaluates how the reverence of French playwrights towards their Italian sources turned into resentment across the course of the century. I argue that as French writers grew increasingly skilled at composing Italianate comedy, they began to use the genre against the Italians themselves, employing theatre not only as a means of resisting the influx of Italian culture and politics into France but also as a canny means of replacing the Italians as arbiters of European literature. Ultimately I challenge the conveniently linear narrative of early modern comic theatre created by previous scholars, contending that the development of comedy in France - along with its reliance on the Italian model - was fraught with complexities and tensions which have long been overlooked.
Supervisor: Cooper, Richard ; McLaughlin, Martin Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literary imitation ; Theatre ; Modern Languages ; French ; Early modern literature and culture ; Cultural rivalry ; Literary theory and poetics ; Performance ; Italian ; Paratexts