January 19, 2016

Heinze on Political and Social Mythmaking In Early Modern Drama

Eric Heinze, Queen Mary University of London, School of Law, is publishing Selecting the Memory, Controlling the Myth: The Propaganda of Legal Foundations in Early Modern Drama in Injustice, Memory, and Faith in Human Rights (K. Chainoglou and B. Collins, eds.; Ashgate, 2016). Here is the abstract.
Notwithstanding age-old aspirations to ground law in rational thought, the constitutive role of myth perennially resurfaces. Political mythology is always a reconstruction of historical memory, and that process becomes crucial at times of systemic political and legal re-constitution. We witness such a political moment in Western Europe in the late 16th and 17th centuries with the emergence of political modernity and the nation state. It is no accident that, in those years, theatre becomes a dominant art form, in which historical memory becomes ritually re-enacted to crystallise the political and social myths which will furnish European legal regimes with value systems. The Shakespearean Henry IV: Part One and The Tempest, along with Jean Racine’s Andromaque, are examined as evidence for that transformation from memory into myth, and history into normativity.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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