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Imaginative space and the construction of community, the drama of Augustine's two cities in the English Renaissance

by Minton, Gretchen E.

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis traces the development of Augustine's paradigm of the two cities (the City of God and the earthly city) in the cultural poetics of the English Renaissance. Although scholars have studied the impact of Augustine's mode1 on theology, historical consciousness, and political theones in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, little attention has been paid to the genealogy of the more specifically "literary" aspects of the idea of the two cities. My line of inquiry is the relationship between Augustine's rnodel of the two cities and the idea of drama. More specifically, this project explores the ways in which the idea of the two cities spoke to various cornmunities-of readers, of worshippers, and ultirnately, of playgoers. Augustine's view of drama is divided; on the one hand, he speaks at length about the evil influence of Roman spectacles, but on the other hand, he acknowledges that the world itself is a theatre for God's cosmic drama. However, this employment of drama is limited in Augustine's writing, because his greater cornmitment is to the idea of Scripture. This interplay between drama and Scripture, 1suggest, is an integral part of the two-cities model that is related to his theology of history. The tension between the idea of drama and the idea of the book is evident in English Reformation appropriations of Augustine's model, such as those of John Bale and John Foxe, who changed the terminology to "the two churches." The second section of my thesis shows how these Reformers contained their own "dramatic" adaptations of the two cities within an even narrower theatre than Augustine' s-a theatre constituted and contained by the Word. Shiftingthe focus to secular drama, the final section concems Shakespeare's use of some facets of the two-cities mode1 in his Jacobean plays, and examines the effects of removing this constmct frorn its religious context. The result, 1argue, is a theatre that celebrates its own aesthetic power and flaunts its sheer physicality, resisting the presumed stability of the written word.
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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