Turkish History on the Early Stuart Stage

Strange Spectacles in the Plays of Thomas Goffe

in Critical Survey
Marcus Hartner Lecturer, Bielefeld University, UK marcus.hartner@uni-bielefeld.de

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This article explores the role of the strange and spectacular in early modern dramatic (re)presentations of the Islamic world by discussing two sixteenth-century tragedies by Thomas Goffe that engage with Turkish dynastic history. No longer employing the fantastical elements used in medieval literature to mark the East as a spectacular space, Goffe presents a vision of Turkish otherness based on a new (mundane) notion of strangeness that relies on the staging of ‘unnaturally’ excessive behaviour and strangely hyperbolic passions. This strategy emphasises the supposed antagonistic alterity of the Muslim other. However, it also (inadvertently) undermines conventional Ottoman stereotypes by offering points of (emotional) contact and recognition between the audience and the Turkish characters on stage.

Contributor Notes

Marcus Hartner is Lecturer in English Literature and Culture at Bielefeld University. Among his main areas of research are the study of narrative theory, migration literature, and the English literary and cultural representations of the Muslim world during the early modern period. He has also published on the theory and practice of interdisciplinary research in the humanities and served as principal investigator in a recent research project on social dynamics and the eighteenth-century novel in Britain within the collaborative research centre (SFB1288) Practices of Comparing (funded by the German Research Foundation). E-mail: marcus.hartner@uni-bielefeld.de.

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