Puritan tribulation and the protestant English history play

Longstaffe, Stephen ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7561-0581 (2001) Puritan tribulation and the protestant English history play. In: Hadfield, Andrew, (ed.) Literature and censorship in Renaissance England. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 31-49.

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There is a strong contemporary consensus that in early modem England there was not a widespread and intentionally repressive censorship or regulatory regime; rather, analysis of specific cases shows that interven­tions were often quite exceptional responses to particular crises. To use a military metaphor, this was 'smart' censorship, suppression precisely targeted in order to minimize collateral damage. One of the advantages of the 'suppression' model, Cyndia Clegg argues, is that it avoids the assumption that 'imaginative writer', 'Catholic apologist', and 'religious reformer' all wrote under the same constraints.1 All the same, such a model is not always useful when the 'imaginative writer' does not steer clear of the material of the 'religious reformer'. The Protestant history play of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean era is, I will argue, an example of 'smart' suppression of religious writings (and, indeed, the larger campaigns against non-conformists of which they were part) inflicting a largely underestimated amount of collateral damage upon the stage. In tum, I will argue that one particular late-Elizabethan satirical project -the stage representation of the puritan - was itself enabled by this collateral damage.

1. Cyndia Susan Clegg, Press Censorship in Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 222-3.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9780333794104
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Additional Information: Chapter 3 within book.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2011 08:47
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 18:15
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/521


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