Ships That Do Not Sail: Antinauticalism, Antitheatricalism, and Irrationality in Stephen Gosson

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Renaissance Drama, ISSN: 0486-3739, Vol: 42, Issue: 1, Page: 91-111

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Kent R. Lehnhof
University of Chicago Press
Arts and Humanities; Stephen Gosson; The Schoole of Abuse; theatricality; antitheatricality; simile; identity; being; essence; restraint; Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory; Literature in English, British Isles; Philosophy; Rhetoric and Composition
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Stephen Gosson's similes, particularly in 1579's The Schoole of Abuse, commend affective restraint, value stasis over motion, and idealize immobility. Combined with his Platonic mistrust of emotion and his dislike of stage plays for the emotional response they provoke, his criticisms can be seen to express a desire to slow cultural change and social mobility. The effect of this in The Schoole of Abuse is that it deprives objects and agents of their essential identify by removing the action that best defines them, implying that to become our best selves, we must give up the very qualities that define us.