The Tower of London in English Renaissance Drama
Icon of Opposition
Routledge – 2008 – 260 pages
The Tower of London in English Renaissance Drama historicizes the Tower of London's evolving meanings in English culture alongside its representations in twenty-four English history plays, 1579-c.1634, by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and others. While Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I fashioned the Tower as a showplace of royal authority, magnificence, and entertainment, many playwrights of the time revealed the Tower's instability as a royal symbol and represented it, instead, as an emblem of opposition to the crown and as a bodily and spiritual icon of non-royal English identity.
"This text offers a provocative and careful study that reassesses the role of the Tower of London by examining the architectural building as a theatrical showplace and an icon of terror in the early modern period. Deiter does a wonderful job of establishing that dramatic representations of the Tower expanded its iconographic meaning by focusing on the Tower as a site of instability, rather than of royal authority. She places her analysis within a larger historical context and a reading of a significant number of cultural artifacts, including diaries, portraits, tracts, poetry, ballads, and woodcuts…Readers interested in scholarship on cultural studies of architecture, artifacts, and the theater as a place for commentary on social and political dissent will find Deiter’s book of particular interest as it makes important contributions to each of these realms of inquiry." --Anne-Marie E. Schuler, Ohio State University, Sixteenth Century Journal
List of Images
Chapter One: Introduction: Historicizing Original Tower Play Audiences
Chapter Two: The Tower of London as a Cultural Icon before the Tower Plays
Chapter Three: Stage vs. State: The Struggle for the Tower
Chapter Four: The Tower of London: Dramatic Emblem of Opposition
Chapter Five: Reading English Nationhood in the Dramatic Tower of London
Coda: The Tower of London: An Evolving Icon
Kristen Deiter is Assistant Professor of English at Tennessee Technological University, USA.