Nathan Field's theatre of excess: youth culture and bodily excess on the early modern stage

Orman, S. (2014) Nathan Field's theatre of excess: youth culture and bodily excess on the early modern stage. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.


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This dissertation argues for the reappraisal of Jacobean boy actors by acknowledging their status as youths. Focussing on the repertory of The Children of the Queen’s Revels and using the acting and playwriting career of Nathan Field as an extensive case-study, it argues, via an investigation into cultural and theatrical bodily excess, that the theatre was a profoundly significant space in which youth culture was shaped and problematised. In defining youth culture as a space for the assertion of an identity that is inherently performative, the theatre stages young men’s social lives to reflect the performativity of masculinity in early modern culture. Chapters One to Three focus on the body of Nathan Field by investigating the roles that he performed in the theatre to claim that the staging of bodily excess amounted to an effort to inculcate correct paths of masculinity. Chapters Four and Five offer detailed analysis of the plays written by Nathan Field, finding that Field was keen to champion positive aspects of youth culture and identity by reforming bodily excess on stage.

Chapter One asserts that George Chapman’s Bussy D’Ambois (1603) identifies the protagonist’s excessive violence as a failure to adhere to humanist teachings; a sign that youth culture is dependent upon the lessons learnt in school, whereas Chapter Two finds that Eastward Ho (1605) condemns the monstrous youthful drunken body before encouraging the audience to value apprenticeship as a positive site of youth identity. Chapter Three argues that John Fletcher’s Faithful Shepherdess (1607) reveals a range of polluted young bodies to demonstrate the importance of moderating the humoral fluctuations of youth before Chapter Four finds Field to be a conservative dramatist who ridicules excess with explicit didactic intentions in his Woman is a Weathercock (1610) and Amends for Ladies (1611). Finally Chapter Five locates aspects of excessive service in Field and Fletcher’s The Honest Man’s Fortune (1613) to problematise aspects of youth culture, friendship and eroticism. The dissertation concludes with a retrospective appraisal of Field’s multifarious identities that championed youth culture, morality and celebrity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR2199 English renaissance (1500-1640)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 19 May 2015 14:49
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2016 23:59

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00