Moral Play and Counterpublic

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-02-07
  • Publisher: Routledge
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In this study, Murakami overturns the misconception that the popular English "morality play" was a medieval vehicle for disseminating conservative religious doctrine. On the contrary, Murakami finds that from its inception in itinerate troupe productions of the late fifteenth century, popular moral drama served not as a cloistered form, but as a volatile public forum. "Moral play" came into its own in the sixteenth century, as a method for challenging normative views on ethics, economics, social rank, and political obligation. The book demonstrates how the genre's apparently inert conventions'”from allegorical characters to the battle between good and evil for Everyman's soul'”veiled a critical exploration of topical issues. Through analyses of representative plays from 1465 to 1599, Murakami argues that what is ultimately at stake in the much discussed connection between symbolic and material practices of stage and market in the sixteenth century is a phenomenon perceived as more threatening to 'the peace' of the realm than either theater or the notorious market: a political self-consciousness that ultimately gave rise to volitional counterpublics who defined themselves against institutional forms of publicity.

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