The Pageant of History: Nostalgia, the Tudors, and the Community Play

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This paper considers the persistence of the Renaissance pageant in modern and post-modern culture, both as a recurrent metaphor for history in general and as a feature of stage, cinematic and communal representations of early modern history in particular. After examining the status of public processions in Renaissance London as conscious revivals of the Roman triumph, indebted at the same time to aspects of the medieval mystery plays, the essay examines the English historical pageants of the Edwardian and inter-war years as themselves revivals of both Renaissance pageantry and aspects of the Shakespearean history play. It looks in particular at their emphasis on the Tudor monarchs and on the ethnic origins of Englishness, identifying the fading of the pageant as a genre in the post-war years with the collapse of certain ideas about English exceptionalism and historical continuity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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