Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 1994 - History - 309 pages
0 Reviews
According to Holinshed's Chronicles, Thomas Arden was murdered by his wife, her lover, and several accomplices in 1551. Holinshed apologizes for including in his state history what seems to be "but a private matter," although at the same time he asserts that the "horribleness" of the act justifies public retelling. Alice Arden's crime was popularized in Arden of Feversham (1592), a play that initiated the genre of domestic tragedy and thrust private conflict onto the stage of public discourse.
Weaving a complex tapestry out of intellectual history and literary analysis, Lena Cowen Orlin examines how the private issues of contentious marital relations and household governance became public - through conduct manuals, sermons, political tracts, and philosophical treatises, as well as domestic tragedies - in the culture of post-Reformation England. Orlin first draws on rich archival evidence in telling the story of the Ardens. Although Arden of Feversham fulfilled the conservative project of confirming patriarchal authority in the home at a time of social upheaval, Orlin finds that later domestic tragedies such as A Woman Killed with Kindness and Othello were less predictable in their aims.
And while other forms of public literature provided blueprints for ordering the household, domestic tragedies continued to reveal the tensions lying under the surface there: inconsistencies in the prescribed role of women, contradictions within patriarchal ideology, conflicts between political and economic interests in the household, inadequacies in the old ideals of friendship and benefice, and anxieties about the control of material possessions.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Chapter One The Place of the Private
15
Coda One Alyce Arderns Rapes
79
Chapter Two Patriarchalism and Its Discontents
85
Copyright

6 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1994)

Lena Cowen Orlin is Executive Director of The Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Bibliographic information