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With theatre he urged people to remember their duties. Social Criticism in the Seventeenth-Century Theatre of the Low Countries.
'Hy dwong het volk door klucht te luistren naar hun plichten' ('With farce he urged people to remember their duties'). With this verse the seventeenth-century playwright Jan Vos honoured Bredero, whose theatre clearly focused on entertainment, while at the same time it urged the audience into social criticism. This verse concisely shows how seventeenth-century theatre functioned. Whereas in the sixteenth century, rhetoricians performed didactic plays in market places, seventeenth-century theatre was staged in playhouses for limited, paying audiences and it was mainly meant as entertainment. In order not to offend their paying audience playwrights had to apply other strategies to criticize society. On the other hand, most plays were printed allowing them to reach a wider audience. Many plays commenting on political events have already been studied. However, criticism on lifestyle (money, fashion), class distinctions (professions, nobility, bourgeoisie), private life (marriage, sexuality) and social problems (beggary, crime) up to now received little attention. Therefore I will study the content and strategy of these kinds of social criticism in a representative corpus of serious and comic plays from the Low Countries, with special attention to the differences between North and South. I will examine these texts in their historical context and in relation to seventeenth-century drama theory to explain the various strategic choices of playwrights.
Date:1 Oct 2015 → 30 Sep 2017
Disciplines:Language studies, Literary studies, Theory and methodology of language studies, Theory and methodology of linguistics, Theory and methodology of literary studies, Other languages and literary studies