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"Holy Cozenage" and the Renaissance Cult of the Ear

Bryan Crockett
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 47-65
DOI: 10.2307/2541797
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2541797
Page Count: 19
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"Holy Cozenage" and the Renaissance Cult of the Ear
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Abstract

This article treats the "metaphysical" sermon of the English Reformation as a performative mode both informed by and informing Renaissance drama. Drawing on the work of the cultural anthropologist Victor Turner (especially his treatments of "structure" and "communitas"), I argue that the peculiar cultural conditions developing out of the Protestant Reformation engendered in England a "cult of the ear," a sensibility marked by a heightened aural receptivity to performances evoking a sense of wonder by their manipulations of paradoxical terms. I support this thesis with treatments of sermons by preachers including Thomas Playfere, Ralph Brownrig, Thomas Adams, Lancelot Andrewes, and John Donne.

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