The commercial theatre of the late sixteenth century is often credited with introducing its audiences to new modes of thought about the self, society and the nation, making them conscious that the self is performed, as an actor performs a role. Yet the earlier interlude drama, originally performed in households and other institutions of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, indicates that the late medieval period was fully aware of the theatricality of identity. This book argues that ideas of performance inform the concepts of aristocratic masculinity developed in the plays 'Nature', 'Fulgens and Lucres', 'The Worlde and the Chylde', 'The Interlude of Youth' and 'Calisto and Melebea'. It examines how the depiction of young male aristocrats in these texts is shaped by ideas of male youth constituted in the middle ages, and shows them as failing or succeeding to perform an adult noble masculinity in the aristocratic body and in aristocratic household. The book also suggests ways in which the plays offer discreet praise and censure of the manner in which their noble patrons performed as aristocrats. Throughout, it brings out the subtle qualities of the interludes, which, the author shows, have been unjustly neglected. Dr FIONA S. DUNLOP is Research Associate of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
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