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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.

Open Access (free)
Behind the screen
Chloe Porter

St Luke and the divine destruction presented in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay , the Terminus statue resists pagan iconoclasm through divine permanence. In this emblem, classical statuary is mobilised to assert Christian notions of mortality as an aesthetic form, a ‘bound of thinges’. It does not seem a coincidence that the Terminus statue is presented as a female figure adjoined to a phallic

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Divine destruction in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay
Chloe Porter

The divine destruction of the head is therefore facilitated by Bacon’s mortality. Significantly, the iconoclastic reach of the play extends not only to the magical, speaking head; the brokenness of the brazen head as idol is matched by the brokenness of Friar Bacon as a scholar who aimed to be idolised as a figure of deific power. Awakened by Miles to the news that ‘the brazen head lies broken’, the

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama