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Performing Early Modern Libel: Expanding the Boundaries of Performance

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/02/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Early Theatre
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)155-168
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This essay focuses on provincial libel cases between private individuals tried at the court of Star Chamber during the early seventeenth century. Libelling saw personal scandals creatively couched in verses, visual symbols, or mock-ceremonies, and read, sung, and posted in early modern communities. This essay identifies a range of ‘manners’ of libel, and compares a libellous ‘Stage plaie’ to a set of libellous mock-proclamations and a ‘book’ of playing card knaves. The essay argues that libels should be understood as functioning on a spectrum of performance. They should therefore prompt an expansion of the boundaries of early performance.