Faculty Bookshelf

The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics and the Practical Spatial Arts

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  • Author(s): Turner, Henry
  • Publisher / Date: Oxford University Press, 2006

The English Renaissance Stage examines the history of English dramatic form and its relationship to mathematics, technology, and early scientific thought during the Renaissance period. The book demonstrates how practical, pre-scientific modes of thinking that were typical of the sixteenth century resulted in new genres of plays and a new vocabulary for problems of poetic representation. In the epistemological moment the book describes, we find new ideas about form and language that would become central to Renaissance literary discourse; in this same moment, too, we find new ways of thinking about the relationship between theory and practice that are typical of modernity, new methods of modeling technical problems, and new attitudes about the importance of technology to the state, as well as to professional self-advancement. By emphasizing the importance of theatrical performance, the book engages with continuing debates over the ideological function of the early modern stage, with theories of performance, and with scholarship on the status of modern authorship. When we consider playwrights in relation to the theater rather than to the printed book, they appear less as "authors" than as figures whose social position and epistemological presuppositions were very similar to the craftsmen, surveyors, and engineers who began to flourish during the sixteenth century and whose mathematical knowledge made them increasingly sought after by men of wealth and power.