Performing Popular Culture: Puppets, Clowns, and Animals in Early Modern England


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“Performing Popular Culture” argues for a more complex understanding of early modern theatricality by recovering the influence of popular performances that coexisted with, rivalled, and eventually outlasted commercial drama. It turns to puppets, clowns, and performing animals as alternatively embodied actors that push the limits of theatrical representation and expand our definitions of performance beyond the stage drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Using a wide-ranging set of newly uncovered texts, images, and objects, it assembles an archive of street theater to reconstruct popular theatrical practices and their place in the Renaissance imagination. Through this new archive, the project rethinks how popular representational strategies encode social values to describe the ethics of theatrical technologies.