Date

1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Adviser

Traister, Barbara H.

Abstract

Tudor and Stuart England serves as the ideal sociological, historical, and literary landscape for confronting a turbulent legacy of professionalization among educators. During an era in which occupational groups began to professionalize, teachers--from domestic tutors, to grammar schoolmasters, to university dons--emerged as a vital core of an educationally-conscious and theatrical society. Many early modern educators incorporated drama in their classrooms, and some acted or wrote for the stage. Because of their placement within an inherently educational and dramatic culture, schoolmasters did not enjoy the status and recognition of the so-called traditional professions. Given the theatricality of the classroom, I argue that the early modern stage makes the precariousness of these professionals particularly visible via the dramatic representations of their work. Just as the actors who play schoolmasters on stage must perform their parts, those who practice as educators in daily discourse must act according to a set of rules and expectations set forth by members of the public and by other members of the profession. This common thread of performance binds dramatic and actual schoolmasters together, and their struggle for professional recognition plays out in the confines of the theater or in the classroom. Beyond reflecting the reality of many schoolmasters' situations, I suggest that on-stage performances of the profession informed or shaped their contemporary professionalization efforts.With the proximity of performance and pedagogy serving as my critical foundation, my project seeks to understand professionalization through the lens of performance. To this end, I offer a series of close readings of key dramatic texts, starting with Gascoigine's The Glasse of Government, which prominently feature representations of the figure of the schoolmaster. After providing a historical overview that establishes the schoolmaster's professional identity via the period's non-dramatic and pedagogical literature, I concentrate on both academic and nonacademic plays in which the schoolmaster (and, by extension, an entire profession) suffers an image crisis that replicates the contemporary professional climate. I highlight how these diversely qualified and positioned educators perform their professions on stage either to the benefit or detriment of a larger, shared professionalization movement. Whereas the period's vernacular academic drama (as seen in Club Law and The Parnassus Plays) or commercial plays set in the university (Marlow's Doctor Faustus and Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay) largely upholds the profession by demonstrating how central performance was to scholarly, social, and national advancement, the era's public drama generally depicts a less complimentary reality via performance. When schoolmasters find themselves on the world's stage beyond their classroom, such as Gerald in The Two Noble Kinsmen and Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost, their professional status is emptied of meaning as made emblematic by their time on stage. In addition to considering representations of established schoolmasters, I devote space to investigating plays (Redford's Wyt and Science, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and Dekker and Webster's Westward Ho) in which the role of the schoolmaster is freely assumed by non-educators thanks to the performance potentials inhered in the profession. Thus, in viewing the staged schoolmasters' acting as a display of a larger professional practice built on performance elements, I demonstrate how we might read dramatic representation as an active contributor to the historic professionalization crisis common to early modern schoolmasters.

Share

COinS