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Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England$
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Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826064.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 October 2020

Censorship and Sacred Drama

Censorship and Sacred Drama

Policing the Performance of Incarnational Art

(p.13) 1 Censorship and Sacred Drama
Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England

Jan-Melissa Schramm

Oxford University Press

The programme of entertainment on offer on the English public stage at the dawn of the nineteenth century was notably secular. The cumulative effect of Tudor injunctions, early modern legislation, and Protestant taste had been to banish the representation of scriptural subjects from the stage. This regulatory framework was underpinned by anti-theatrical anxieties and prejudices popularized and seemingly confirmed by the Reformation, which continued to be felt into the nineteenth century. Indeed, the enactment of the Catholic Relief Act in 1829 and the subsequent return of Catholicism to a position of public and artistic prominence at mid-century seems to have enhanced Victorian concern about the potentially deleterious effects of Catholic materialism and visual art. The composition and regulation of sacred drama serve as a test case, then, to probe and expose nineteenth-century anxieties about the form in which apprehensions of God could legitimately be expressed.

Keywords:   Reformation, mystery plays, incarnation, censorship, sacramentalism, secularism, tradition, precedent, John Henry Newman, Jeremy Bentham

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