"Asked to bear their part" : redefining the audience in early modern drama

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rita L. Jones (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Christopher Hodgkins

Abstract: "In this dissertation, I expand our understanding of the dramatic audience, approaching this complicated concept through the playwright's representations of the audience on and from the stage, what I have entitled "imagined audiences." While recent literary criticism approaches the Renaissance audience primarily from a demographic perspective, I use the term "imagined audiences" to focus on the fictional audiences the writer produces on the stage. Since Renaissance dramas are filled with references to theatergoers (and theatergoing), observers, auditors, and watchers, the playwright's representations of audience, his "imagined audiences," take on many forms. For example, the playgoers represented in and through the Early Modern prologues along with the fictional auditors such as Theseus and his fellow Athenian spectators, who watch the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer Night's Dream, serve as "imagined audiences." Furthermore, since actors represent the initial auditors for the play and its performance, depictions of actors on the stage, as seen in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, are also included in the definition of "imagined" or staged audiences. Including these representations in our understanding of "audience" allows us to approach Renaissance dramas and their audiences from a fuller perspective. Using both literary and composition theorists, I argue that this broader view highlights how playwrights visualized composition as a collaborative process in which the playwright and the audience work together to compose the text and its meaning. Also, through their imagined audiences, playwrights invoked their ideal and distinct view of this collaborative relationship that helps shape the playwright's identity."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
audience, dramatic, imagined, Renaissance
English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600.
Theater audiences
Theater audiences--England--History--16th century

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