Performance, Politics, and Culture in the Southwest of Britain, 1350-1642: Historian's Response


  • Peter Fleming University of the West of England, Bristol



The records of past dramatic performances offer promising material for social and economic historians, whose subject is the organization of communities, and for political and cultural historians interested in the formulation, communication, and actualization of ideas and norms. This collection highlights the great diversity of a region that encompassed a wide range of landforms, economies, and cultures. The production of detailed, tightly-focused studies within a region of such diversity sheds light on important exceptions to the big picture based on national or county-wide surveys. For historians, perhaps the most exciting aspect of these studies is what they reveal about local politics. For example, performance could act as a catalyst for latent conflict, and public display and spectacle were used to challenge or reinforce territorial and jurisdictional claims in struggles between civic and ecclesiastical authorities. The present volume is a fine example of a welcome historiographical trend: the convergence between literary studies and the work of political and social historians.