The New History Play

(1916 words)
  • Mark Berninger (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz )

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

The history play is often regarded as a genre of the past. It is most frequently associated either with the short phase of the great Elizabethan histories of Marlowe and Shakespeare in the 1590s or with the historicism of the 19th century. Early models are Marlowe's Edward II (ca. 1592/93) and Shakespeare's cycle of plays from Henry VI, Part 1 (ca. 1590) to Henry V (1599). This perspective, however, obscures the fact that history has always been an important topic of theatre plays and continues to be one of the main themes of contemporary drama.

The shape and function of a history play clearly depends on the understanding of history it is based on, and the significance of history for the society for w…

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Berninger, Mark. "The New History Play". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 March 2007
[, accessed 03 July 2015.]