Performing Economic Thought: English Drama and Mercantile Writing 1600-1642 (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture EUP)

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9780748684656: Performing Economic Thought: English Drama and Mercantile Writing 1600-1642 (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture EUP)

This study examines the structural similarities between English mercantile treatises and drama c1600-1642. Bradley D. Ryner analyses the representational conventions of plays and mercantile treatises written between the chartering of the English East India Company in 1600 and the closing of the public playhouses at the outset of the English Civil War in 1642. He shows that playwrights' manipulation of specific elements of theatrical representation - such as metaphor, props, dramatic character, stage space, audience interaction, and genre - exacerbated the tension between the aspects of the world taken into account by a particular representation and those aspects that it neglects.

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About the Author:

Bradley Ryner is Assistant Professor at the Arizona State University.


"Performing Economic Thought is an innovative investigation of theatrical technique and mercantilist discourse. Ryner provides lucid readings of dense economic treatises and cogent explications of demanding theoretical material. His objective of historicize the division between fact and fiction that has bought a privileged place for economics is important and ambitious."
-- Amanda Bailey in Shakespeare Quarterly 66.3 (2015)

"I wish there were more books like Bradley D. Ryner's Performing Economic Thought... Ryner provides... a serious account of what literature and especially drama can do in the wider world of ideas. [...] This is the kind of book that speculatively inclined economists should (and could) read, and that every early modernist scholar of literature will want to sample."
-- Roland Greene in SEL 55.2 (2015)

"Ryner has staked out his own turf in this excellent book: he treats seriously economic thought in Renaissance drama, and illuminates the formal qualities of plays that display that thought. In the end, he is successful in his project to compare the efficacy of mercantilists' economic models and playwrights' plays: while both attempt to link individual actions to their systemic effects, plays' more comprehensive, mediated and consciously constructed models successfully 'teach' audiences how to see complex socio-economic patterns and their consequences."
-- Jill P. Ingram in Review of English Studies 66 (2015)

"Ryner ventures into well-travelled waters in Performing Economic Thought but happily he produces substantial returns on investment. Rather than approach the early modern 'business' of theatre in the manner of William Ingram and Melissa Aaron, or as a naturalizing representation of nascent capitalism à la Jean-Christophe Agnew or Richard Halpern, Ryner compares drama and mercantile writing between 1600 and 1642 as forms of knowledge. The result is compelling, well-documented, and lucidly written.... Performing Economic Thought... demonstrates that the early modern stage could produce new knowledge about economic discourse, especially that economic writing is itself performative."
-- Aaron Kitch in Renaissance Studies 29.3 (2015)

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