The Idolatrous Eye : Iconoclasm and Theater in Early-Modern England

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9780195132052: The Idolatrous Eye : Iconoclasm and Theater in Early-Modern England

This study argues that the century after the Reformation saw a crisis in the way that Europeans expressed their religious experience. Focusing specifically on how this crisis affected the drama of England, O'Connell shows that Reformation culture was preoccupied with idolatry and that the theater was frequently attacked as idolatrous. This anti-theatricalism notably targeted the traditional cycles of mystery plays--a type of vernacular, popular biblical theater that from a modern perspective would seem ideally suited to advance the Reformation project. The Idolatrous Eye provides a wide perspective on iconoclasm in the sixteenth century, and in so doing, helps us to understand why this biblical theater was found transgressive and what this meant for the secular theater that followed.

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About the Author:

Michael O'Connell is at Universithy of California, Santa Barbara.

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"The Idolatrous Eye ranks with the books I have found the most valuable in the past two years. O'Connell makes us think again about a subject which we thought we knew. His discussions of the representation of the body of Christ and of the textualization of that body are unique, provocative, richly instructive, and useful. His emphasis on literacy and print as the driving force behind an increasingly logocentric religious culture is not only timely given our current preoccupation with the history of the book but is profoundly challenging to some of the commonplaces we reiterate about word-centered Protestantism."--Donna B. Hamilton, Renaissance Quarterly


"The Idolatrous Eye powerfully reads not just Elizabethan, but all of post-classical Western European drama, as a crucible for the epistemological struggle between word and image over the mystery of the Incarnation."--Religion and Arts


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