Imagining Other Worlds: Setting in Early Modern English Drama (Panel)

Global Anglophone

Philip Goldfarb Styrt (St. Ambrose University)

Every play imagines its own world—but the worlds they imagine must in some way connect with their audience. This panel invites perspectives on early modern English drama that considers the balance between these two poles: the imagined world of the setting and its connection to the surrounding culture in early modern England. This balance is particularly important in early modern English drama for both historical reasons—an increased awareness of other worlds and their different reality within the expanding cultural purview of the early modern English—and literary ones—since so much criticism of these plays has focused on their relation to early modern England itself to the exclusion of their frequently quite disparate settings. By exploring early modern drama through this lens, we hope to get a glimpse of what it meant—and means—to imagine another world as the setting for the play.

This session welcomes approaches from a wide variety of perspectives on the function of setting in the plays, with particular emphasis on how the imagined worlds of the settings relate to early modern English understandings of the world around them and their place within that world. Papers might look at a play, a setting, an author, or the larger cultural context of setting, including text, adaptation, and performance.

This session looks at early modern English drama through the lens of setting, asking how the imaginative leap of setting a play in another place or time affects its meaning. Papers may examine a particular play, author, or setting, or look to more general questions of setting in the period. By exploring the interplay between early modern English drama and its settings, the session considers how early modern England saw the world and its own place within it.