cover of book

Renaissance Drama 40: What is Renaissance Drama?
edited by William N. West
Northwestern University Press, 2012
Cloth: 978-0-8101-2845-3
Library of Congress Classification PN1785.W47 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 809.203


In this fortieth volume of Renaissance Drama, we pause again, not with the idea that we could define, or even describe, what might be, ought to be, or is included in the study of Renaissance drama (or if it is even always or ever the Renaissance, or the drama, that we study). But this does not even seem to have been what moved the first conversations that became "Research Opportunities" and Renaissance Drama. Rather, as they seem to have felt, we want to look at where we are and where our studies might lead us, and we too think we might as well make a beginning. For this issue, the editors invited a number of scholars working on different kinds of Renaissance drama, in a variety of ways and in several languages, to contribute brief essays addressing the state of the field of Renaissance drama, "the field" being convenient shorthand for the practical but productive indefinition under which we carry out our research and publish Renaissance Drama. In particular we asked them to consider these questions:

  • How and with what effects has the study of Renaissance drama (or early modern performance) changed over the past half-century?

  • What now is Renaissance drama?  What could Renaissance drama become?

  • What do you see as the most exciting (or least productive) development in the field?

  • How have other developments in literary studies, performance studies, or other historical periods affected work in the field?

  • What is missing from work in the field that it would be desirable to include or revive?

  • Are there strategies you would propose for working through the divisions in the field based on national boundaries, between languages and traditions, or between canonical figures like Shakespeare, Molière, and other kinds of work?  What kinds of distinctions do you see in the field?  How are they useful or misleading?

  • What new avenues in the field should open up further?  Where should we look now?

  • What is the most important work being done, or remaining to be done?

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