The Stage on Trial: Transnational Opposition Against the Theatre in Early Modern Europe


ACLS Fellowship Program


Clark Honors College


“The Stage on Trial" is a comparative study of the various theological and political arguments that were directed against the theatre in Post-Reformation Europe. Based on an analysis of treatises, sermons, pamphlets, and translations, the book examines the opposition against performances on the stage as a pan-European phenomenon that transcended national and confessional boundaries in the period between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth century. It shows in detail that radical Christian religious groups such as English Puritans, Dutch and Swiss Calvinists, French Jansenists, and German Pietists effectively created transnational discursive communities in their denunciation of public plays. The book is the first study to address the circulation of anti-theatrical ideas among radical Protestant and Catholic groups across borders, and details which—often covert—strategies they employed when reusing, appropriating, and modifying each other’s arguments in their battle against public spectacles. These anti-theatrical impulses should be considered productive cultural forces rather than paralyzing hindrances in the history of Early Modern theatre since they led to a dialogue between supporters and opponents of the theatre, and parts of these exchanges were actually performed on stage.