In this title, first published in 1985, Michael Bristol draws on several theoretical and critical traditions to study the nature and purpose of theatre as a social institution: on Marxism, and its revisions in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin; on the theories of Emile Durkheim and their adaptations in the work of Victor Turner; and on the history of social life and material culture as practiced by the Annales school. This valuable work is an important contribution to literary criticism, theatre studies and social history and has particular importance for scholars interested in the dramatic literature of Elizabethan England.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Part I: Theoretical Perspective 1. Playing the old works historically 2. The social function of festivity 3. Carnival and plebeian culture; Party II: The Texts of Carnival 4. Travesty and social order 5. Butchers and fishmongers 6.'A complete exit from the present order of life’; Part III: Theater and the Structure of Authority 7. Authority and the author function 8. The dialectic of laughter 9. Clowning and devilment; Part IV: Carnivalized Literature 10. Wedding feast and charivari 11. Treating death as a laughing matter 12. The festive agon: the politics of Carnival; Notes; Bibliography; Index
"…Bristol has written a worthwhile and stimulating book that places the theatrical experience in a new and illuminating historical context" – Theatre Survey
"Bristol’s is a complex and impressive argument, making us reconsider traditional evaluations of individual plays" – Times Higher Education Supplement
"In Carnival and Theater, Michael Bristol presents a careful blend of literary criticism and social history. With its sophisticated theoretical framework and its convincing demonstration of the polyvocal and multi-layered nature of cultural production, Carnival and Theater provides and exemplary model of cultural criticism that will be valuable to scholars from a variety of disciplines and perspectives" – Journal of Social History