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Spectators, aesthetics and encompletion
Author: Chloe Porter

This book discusses early modern English drama as a part of visual culture. It concerns the ideas about 'making and unmaking' that Shakespeare and his contemporaries may have known and formulated, and how these ideas relate to the author's own critical assumptions about early modern aesthetic experience. The study of drama as a part of visual culture offers the perfect context for an exploration of pre-modern aesthetic discourse. The book expounds the author's approach to plays as participants in a lively post-Reformation visual culture in the process of 're-formation'. It then focuses on the social meanings of patronage of the visual arts in a discussion of Paulina as patron of Hermione's image in The Winter's Tale. The discussion of The Winter's Tale pivots around the play's troubling investment in patriarchal notions of 'perfection'. The book also explores image-breaking in Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. This play presents an instance of onstage iconoclasm in the supernatural destruction of a demonic brazen head, a quasi-magical figure that had been depicted in English literature since at least the twelfth century. In focusing on the portrayal of invisibility in The Two Merry Milkmaids, the book explores early modern preoccupation with processes of visual construction in a play in which there is very little artisanal activity.

Divine destruction in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay
Chloe Porter

in a context in which completion is conceptualised as transgression? To begin to answer these questions, this chapter will explore image-breaking in Robert Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (first performed c. 1589), which presents an instance of onstage iconoclasm in the supernatural destruction of a demonic brazen head, a quasi-magical figure that had been

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Open Access (free)
Speaking pictures?
Chloe Porter

, since as a noun it referred to ‘the act of setting forth descriptively’. 2 When dramatists put image-making on display, therefore, they often do so using words as well as spectacle; in Robert Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , we are told of the making of a magical brazen head by a demon named Belcephon, and see the destruction of this item onstage by means of a magical hammer. 3 In

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Open Access (free)
Behind the screen
Chloe Porter

pictures’ (p. 86, line 19). Consequently, examples in which dramatists grapple with the limitations of representational activity have been discussed here as a mode of problem-solving. This is the light in which I have viewed the deployment of defacement and erasure in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and The Two Merry Milkmaids ; in addition, the evocation of the unknowability of Hermione’s image has

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Open Access (free)
Invisibility and erasure in The Two Merry Milkmaids
Chloe Porter

an audience who also sees the moment of passage into a supposed state of invisibility. While it may be fair to say that invisibility on the early modern stage is always ‘on display’ as a material state, it should be pointed out that this display usually evades absolute clarity. Much like the brazen head in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , the making of the items which in turn

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Chloe Porter

function as onstage spectators. In The Winter’s Tale , Paulina is patron of the supposed statue of Hermione; in Lyly’s Campaspe , Alexander the Great commissions a portrait of Campaspe, while in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , Friar Bacon oversees a demonic image-making process. Since The Two Merry Milkmaids concerns spectatorship within the visual field rather than of a specific artwork, there

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama