Turkish History on the Early Stuart Stage

Strange Spectacles in the Plays of Thomas Goffe

in Critical Survey
Author: Marcus Hartner1
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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.

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