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In this 2003 book West explores what 'theatre' meant to medieval and Renaissance writers and places Renaissance drama within the influential context of the encyclopedic writings produced at the time. It was an encyclopedic culture, obsessed with sorting knowledge, and early encyclopedias presented themselves as textual theatres, in which everything knowable could be represented in concrete, visible form. Medieval and Renaissance plays, similarly, took encyclopedic themes as their topics: the mysteries of nature, universal history, the world of learning. But instead of transmitting authorized knowledge unambiguously, as it was supposed to be, the theatre created a situation in which ordinary experience could become a source of authority. West covers a wide range of works, from the encyclopedic texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance to Marlowe's Dr Faustus, Jonson's The Alchemist, and Bacon's Novum Organum, to provide a fascinating picture of the cultural life of the period.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780521030618
ISBN-10: 0521030617
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Pages: 312
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: 2-Nov-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - William N. West

William West has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of Nevada, Reno, and is currently assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has published on encyclopedism, the arts of memory, symbolic economies, and the epistemology of early modern performance in journals such as English Literary Renaissance, Renaissance Drama, and Comparative Literature. He is currently at work on a book on the significance of confusion and misunderstanding in early modern drama.

Books By Author William N. West

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