Religion and Revelry in Shakespeare's Festive World examines the relationship between traditional festive pastimes - such as Midsummer pageants and morris dancing - and Shakespeare's plays. Beginning with C. L. Barber's Shakespeare's Festive Comedy, work on this topic has stressed the political and social meanings of early modern festivity; in contrast, this study seeks to restore a sense of the devotional issues surrounding festivity to our understanding of early modern cultural representations. After establishing the continued religious controversies surrounding festivity expressed in a range of early modern literature, the book argues that Shakespeare is a festive traditionalist who t only ackwledges the relationship between traditional pastimes, stage plays, and religious controversy, but who also aligns his own work with festive energies identified with the old religion. Religion and Revelry therefore intervenes in recent controversies over the role of religion in Shakespeare's theater, as well as the particular place of Catholicism in Shakespeare's work and world.
Phebe Jensen is Associate Professor in the Department of English, Utah State University.