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The Elizabethan Country House Entertainment
Print, Performance and Gender


  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107594920

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • This is the first full-length critical study of country house entertainment, a genre central to late Elizabethan politics. It shows how the short plays staged for the Queen at country estates like Kenilworth Castle and Elvetham shaped literary trends and intervened in political debates, including whether women made good politicians and what roles the church and local culture should play in definitions of England. In performance and print, country house entertainments facilitated political negotiations, rethought gender roles, and crafted regional and national identities. In its investigation of how the hosts used performances to negotiate local and national politics, the book also sheds light on how and why such entertainments enabled female performance and authorship at a time when English women did not write or perform commercial plays. Written in a lively and accessible style, this is fascinating reading for scholars and students of early modern literature, theatre, and women's history.

    • An excellent and accessible introduction to country house entertainment, a genre of early English drama and a field of emerging interest
    • Greatly enhances our understanding of Renaissance women's involvement in politics and theatre, and will also appeal to anyone interested in print culture, the history of the book, and court pageantry
    • Provides an insightful analysis of how publishers shaped printed court entertainments, providing a new view of the lasting contributions of ephemeral theatre
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… its virtue is that it assembles such a wide array of materials that Kolkovich has researched comprehensively. This monograph will appeal to readers with interests in performance studies, print history, gender politics, and the uneven development of English nationhood.' Eric Song, Modern Philology

    'Kolkovich's detailed and well-researched study of Elizabethan country-house entertainments places them within a variety of relevant contexts, showing how these events, though sometimes rather gnomic, can illuminate the interweaving of gender, nation, family, and hierarchy in Elizabethan politics and culture. … an excellent starting point for further investigation of these fascinating performances and the texts and other forms of evidence that remain of them.' Susan L. Anderson, Renaissance Quarterly

    'Recent interdisciplinary studies have done much to deepen our understanding of the significance of such entertainments, yet there remains room for a work that synthesizes and expands on such studies and explores the entertainments in the context of broader academic debates. Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich's detailed critical study of Elizabethan country house entertainment achieves this by exploring how the entertainments staged for the Queen functioned in the formation and negotiation of religious, gender, regional, and national identities.' Susan Flavin, Sixteenth Century Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107594920
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Performance:
    1. Negotiating in a 'strange Country': Theobalds, Kenilworth, and the local politics of country house performance
    2. 'Your Majesty on my knees will I followe': performing gender and the courtier-monarch relationship
    3. An 'abundance of dainties': hospitality and housewifery at Elvetham, Mitcham, and Harefield
    Part II. Print:
    4. 'Pleasures by a profitable publication': publishers and readers of printed entertainment
    5. 'Set this downe in English': Cowdray, Elvetham, and printed pageantry as national news
    6. 'This paper, which carieth so base names': the Sidneys, authorship, and printed pageantry as literature

  • Author

    Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich, Ohio State University
    Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich is an Assistant Professor of English at Ohio State University. She has published essays on pageantry and Renaissance drama in Shakespeare Quarterly, English Literary Renaissance, and elsewhere. A conference paper relating to this book won the Agnes B. Strickland Award for best paper from the Queen Elizabeth I Society in 2011. Her research has been funded by short-term residential fellowships at the Huntington Library.

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