Ravishment of Reason presents a new contextual framework for the study of Restoration drama, demonstrating the important cultural work performed by the restored theaters in offering versions of political theory that mediated between older notions of thaumaturgic authority and proto-modern forms of government premised upon autonomy and contract.
Ravishment of Reason examines the heroic dramas written for the restored English theatres in the later seventeenth century, reading them as complex and sophisticated responses to a crisis of public life in the wake of the mid-century regicide and revolution. The unique form of the Restoration heroic play, with its scenes of imperial conquest peopled by hesitating and indecisive heroes, interrogates traditional oppositions of agency and passivity, autonomy and servility, that structure conventional narratives of political service and public virtue, exploring, in the process, new and often unsettling models of order and governance. Situating the dramas of Dryden, Behn, Boyle, Lee, and Crowne in their historical and intellectual context of civil war and the destabilizing theories of government that came in its wake, Brandon Chua offers an account of a culture’s attempts to reconcile civic purpose with political stability after an age of revolutionary change.
One: “Heroicall Pictures”: Government and the Restoration Heroic Play
Two: “New Rights we Grant not, but the Old Declare”: History, Friendship, and Consent in Roger Boyle’s Henry V (1664)
Three: “Tis All but Ceremony Which Is Past”: Conversion and Heroic Passions in John Dryden’s The Conquest of Granada, Parts One and Two (1670-1672)
Four: Shakespeare's History Lesson: John Crowne's Misery of Civil War (1680)
Five: “Cajoling the People with his Known Industry”: The Passions and Spectacular Politics in Nathaniel Lee’s Lucius Junius Brutus
Six: The Politics of Cowardice: Fear, Interest, and Security in Aphra Behn’s The Widdow Ranter (1689)
Seven: “Half Loath and Half Consenting”: Interpretive Relativism and Incest in John Dryden's Don Sebastian (1690)
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