Representing the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England
Sacred theatrical performance has always attracted the strong scrutiny of the state. Consequently, one focus of this study is the relationship between sacred aesthetics and the law: what practices are considered in need of legal protection (or proscription), and how does that agenda change over time? But another is the way in which tradition (in this case, the long history of sacred drama in England) is constantly contested and revised, involving a profound interrogation of the extent to which the inheritances of the past shape the present or indeed the present predetermines our reading of the past. The Introduction alerts the reader to both these dynamics—the persistence of certain forms in the face of state censorship, and the ways in which that very narrative of continuity must be subject to critical scrutiny.
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