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Acting and actio in the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes

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This paper considers the interaction between performance and interpretation in the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, and presents his pulpit oratory as a drama whose choreographed movements served the protean demands of impersonation as well as the revelation of meaning. Several recent studies have pointed to the shared cultural and religious functions of the pulpit and stage in Renaissance England, but this article focuses on their shared actions. The physical skills in delivery, or actio, so crucial to persuasion were first taught to Andrewes through academic drama, and I find this fusion of acting and learning reproduced in his sermons. So, in the concluding analysis of a 1602 sermon, an attempt is made to describe how an Andrewes performance might have looked, the speculation for which relies on the relationship between gesture and emotion that informs the craft of both actors and orators. It is suggested that the preacher's movements are inseparable not only from exegetical strategies, but also from the process of emotional discovery that guides and inspires belief.

Keywords: Lancelot Andrewes; emotion; gesture; rhetoric; sermons

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Jackman Humanities InstituteUniversity of Toronto

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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