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From Priests’ to Actors’ Wardrobe: Controversial, Commercial, and Costumized Vestments

From Priests’ to Actors’ Wardrobe: Controversial, Commercial, and Costumized Vestments This essay examines Catholic vestments on the English stage from the early Reformation through Shakespeare. The changing meaning, status, and usage of Catholic vestments, which crossed the boundary from sacred religious property to secular theatrical costume, enabled the diverse theatrical manipulation of the garments to build on and relieve contemporary social anxiety about Catholicism. This, in turn, demonstrates the self-contradictory attitudes of many early modern English subjects toward Catholicism, theatricality, and sexuality. The discussion begins with the vestiarian controversies caused by the radical Protestants’ stubborn resistance to state control over what to wear in Reformed churches. This controversy can be elucidated by a look at vestment rentals and sales before and after the Reformation. The economic value and cultural history of vestments as well as the related religious polemic played a crucial role in determining where vestments belonged physically and metaphorically. The discussion then focuses on several plays that stage vestments during and after the Reformation and explores what they reflected and represented. From the effort to keep Catholic vestments as the symbol of sacred authority to the strategic movement to reverse their meaning to secularized Catholic hypocrisy, struggles to control the meaning invested in the liturgical Catholic vestments were represented, embodied, and enacted in early modern theater history as well as in the plays staged in the period. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

From Priests’ to Actors’ Wardrobe: Controversial, Commercial, and Costumized Vestments

Studies in Philology , Volume 113 (2) – Apr 6, 2016

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

This essay examines Catholic vestments on the English stage from the early Reformation through Shakespeare. The changing meaning, status, and usage of Catholic vestments, which crossed the boundary from sacred religious property to secular theatrical costume, enabled the diverse theatrical manipulation of the garments to build on and relieve contemporary social anxiety about Catholicism. This, in turn, demonstrates the self-contradictory attitudes of many early modern English subjects toward Catholicism, theatricality, and sexuality. The discussion begins with the vestiarian controversies caused by the radical Protestants’ stubborn resistance to state control over what to wear in Reformed churches. This controversy can be elucidated by a look at vestment rentals and sales before and after the Reformation. The economic value and cultural history of vestments as well as the related religious polemic played a crucial role in determining where vestments belonged physically and metaphorically. The discussion then focuses on several plays that stage vestments during and after the Reformation and explores what they reflected and represented. From the effort to keep Catholic vestments as the symbol of sacred authority to the strategic movement to reverse their meaning to secularized Catholic hypocrisy, struggles to control the meaning invested in the liturgical Catholic vestments were represented, embodied, and enacted in early modern theater history as well as in the plays staged in the period.

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 6, 2016

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