Performing consumption and consuming performance: a 17th century play collection

Kirk, Maria (2016) Performing consumption and consuming performance: a 17th century play collection. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between performance and consumption in relation to play collection in the 1630s, and also examines the wider contexts of performance and consumption in that decade. It proposes that the 1630s were a decade characterised by particularly self-conscious performances of consumption, and that this environment contributed directly to the beginnings of the collection of books for display purposes. A focus on the Petworth collection and its original collector is maintained throughout the thesis, which weaves together the material and literary content of the collection.

Using material evidence from the volumes themselves, this thesis demonstrates that the collection was purchased in 1638 by the 10th Earl of Northumberland through an agent who assembled the collection specifically for the Earl just prior to his purchase of it. It also demonstrates, again using evidence from the volumes themselves, that the purchase was partly informed by principles of education, personal taste and a consideration for family history, but that the overwhelming motive was the drive to consume and to perform that consumption. Using the literary content of the collection to explore representations of performed consumption, this thesis tracks the development of the conceptualisation of consumption on the stage from the wariness about dangerous consumption in the late Elizabethan period to the much more open, and yet still rather complex, attitudes of the 1630s. Finally, the thesis discusses some other kinds of public, performed consumption, including a procession by Northumberland and an entertainment with which he was connected, exploring the explicitly social elements of performance.

The Petworth play collection is at once anomalous and typical as an example of mid-17th century book collection, and it can be used to illustrate and map the multitude of issues, concepts and attitudes which surround performance, consumption and collection in the 1630s, and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0431 17th century
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0621 Drama
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR1098 Collections of English literature
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2016 14:42
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2017 13:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61894

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