Sincere Performances: The Affective Scripts of the Pulpit and Stage in Post-Reformation England

Doctoral Dissertation


Few rivalries in early modern England approach the protracted conflict between the pulpit and the stage. Godly ministers and antitheatrical writers declaimed players as handmaids to idolatry while playwrights portrayed their critics as bumbling hypocrites, intoxicated by ale as much as the Holy Spirit. The squabble transcended the bounds of derision: theater owners increasingly operated outside of London’s walls—and the jurisdiction of the puritan city council. And, from 1642-1660, the puritan Parliament closed the theaters altogether. This antinomy perhaps explains a gap in early modern studies. Despite the “turn to religion,” advocated by Ken Jackson and Arthur Marotti (2004), few studies acknowledge the links between pulpit and stage as two of the primary spaces of social habituation. Sincere Performances: The Affective Scripts of the Pulpit and Stage in Post-Reformation England fills that gap by analyzing how these two spaces shared an affective landscape distinctly shaped by English Protestant thought. Sincere Performances argues that the pulpit and stage engaged a series of bodily responses—weeping, trembling, blushing, sighing, and laughing—using a variety of affective scripts by which they could frame and interpret these responses for audiences. Through close analysis of sermons and plays, the project illustrates how the pulpit and stage possessed a common vision of “sincere affects,” which acted as visceral evidence of spiritual change and emotional legibility.


Attribute NameValues
Author Jillian M. Snyder
Contributor Jesse M. Lander, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline English
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2019-03-21

Submission Date 2019-04-06
  • English drama – Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600 – History and criticism

  • English Literature

  • English Sermons – Protestant Sermons

  • Christianity and Literature

  • Human body in literature

  • Theater and Religion

  • English

Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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