UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Imaginative space and the construction of community : the drama of Augustine’s two cities in the English Renaissance Minton, Gretchen E.


This thesis traces the development of Augustine's paradigm of the two cities (the City of God and the earthly city) in the cultural poetics of the English Renaissance. Although scholars have studied the impact of Augustine's model on theology, historical consciousness, and political theories in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, little attention has been paid to the genealogy of the more specifically "literary" aspects of the idea of the two cities. My line of inquiry is the relationship between Augustine's model of the two cities and the idea of drama. More specifically, this project explores the ways in which the idea o f the two cities spoke to various communities—of readers, of worshippers, and ultimately, of playgoers. Augustine's view of drama is divided; on the one hand, he speaks at length about the evil influence of Roman spectacles, but on the other hand, he acknowledges that the world itself is a theatre for God's cosmic drama. However, this employment of drama is limited in Augustine's writing, because his greater commitment is to the idea of Scripture. This interplay between drama and Scripture, I suggest, is an integral part of the two-cities model that is related to his theology of history. The tension between the idea of drama and the idea o f the book is evident in English Reformation appropriations of Augustine's model, such as those of John Bale and John Foxe, who changed the terminology to "the two churches." The second section of my thesis shows how these Reformers contained their own "dramatic" adaptations of the two cities within an even narrower theatre than Augustine's—a theatre constituted and contained by the Word. Shifting the focus to secular drama, the final section concerns Shakespeare's use of some facets of the two-cities model in his Jacobean plays, and examines the effects of removing this construct from its religious context. The result, I argue, is a theatre that celebrates its own aesthetic power and flaunts its sheer physicality, resisting the presumed stability of the written word.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.