In early modern England, when playgoing became more and more part of the daily life, a heated controversy over the morality of drama broke out. This was mainly fueled by Calvinist extremists, the Puritans, who condemned plays for their supposed “empiety” and “evil.” Resulting from the fierce iconoclasm of the radical exponents of the Reformed Church, these attacks ended up condemning drama especially because it brought to life dynamized verbal pictures, whose powerful impact on the audience the most alert among them did not fail to acknowledge and denounce (O’Connell 2000). The aim of this chapter is to investigate the theoretical framework of the controversy over drama, by showing how Puritan criticism specifically condemned the dangers implicit in the latter’s visual nature. Particularly, the focus will be on the controversy that took place at Oxford University at the beginning of the 1590s. This involved well-known personalities of the cultural world of the time, namely, John Rainolds, professor of Greek at Corpus Christi College and one of the most eminent theologians of his time; William Gager, the most famous academic playwright, and Alberico Gentili, regius professor of civil law and who is today considered one of the fathers of modern international law.

An Edifying "Pictura Loquens". Alberico Gentili’s "Commentatio" and the Defence of Drama in Elizabethan Oxford

Ragni C
2020

Abstract

In early modern England, when playgoing became more and more part of the daily life, a heated controversy over the morality of drama broke out. This was mainly fueled by Calvinist extremists, the Puritans, who condemned plays for their supposed “empiety” and “evil.” Resulting from the fierce iconoclasm of the radical exponents of the Reformed Church, these attacks ended up condemning drama especially because it brought to life dynamized verbal pictures, whose powerful impact on the audience the most alert among them did not fail to acknowledge and denounce (O’Connell 2000). The aim of this chapter is to investigate the theoretical framework of the controversy over drama, by showing how Puritan criticism specifically condemned the dangers implicit in the latter’s visual nature. Particularly, the focus will be on the controversy that took place at Oxford University at the beginning of the 1590s. This involved well-known personalities of the cultural world of the time, namely, John Rainolds, professor of Greek at Corpus Christi College and one of the most eminent theologians of his time; William Gager, the most famous academic playwright, and Alberico Gentili, regius professor of civil law and who is today considered one of the fathers of modern international law.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1056083
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