“‘let them pass / As transitory things’: Simulated bodies in The Staple of News and The Roaring Girl.”[i]

You may have noticed the absence of a certain English undergraduate from the non-material world of late[ii]. Allow me to catch you up on my doings in the last week.

Previously, in Erin’s existence:

There’s not much exciting to share, actually: I spent most of the week revising and adding the footnotes to my first chapter, a task that occupied more of my time than it should have because I took only half-notes the first time I read many of my critical articles. I suppose I was busy with end of term papers then, but, honestly, the time saved has been lost this week as I scrambled to recall the various arguments, and re-read when I didn’t. There’s been a lot of re-reading.

In the course of re-reading, I learned another pair of lessons that will shape my reading strategies in the future: first, I will not, for the next chapters, divide my readings evenly, reading all the criticism on one play at all once and then all the criticism on the next. This strategy worked out well for about 7-10 articles, as my familiarity with the type of arguments grew and I was able to quickly assimilate articles into my memory. After about ten articles on the same play and subject, however, things started to become a bit monotonous, and, growing tired, it became a struggle to pay close attention to the nuances of each article’s take on the subject. Only those articles starting a new investigation were making any impression on my memory. I suspect alternating research subjects a bit will avoid this problem.

I will, however, continue to read articles in order of the most recent date to the earliest. Reading in this order meant I was always most alert during the most recent criticism (the work that fewer people have already responded to, and thus the areas where the most development can occur). Also, these critics, since they too are responding to earlier research, usually provide thorough summaries of the different interpretive branches that have developed on different plays and themes: this allows me to situate my own argument somewhere within these branches. It also allows me to know, when I get to a earlier article, how influential the article has been in recent studies, how much time I should devote to it, and, finally, because I’ve already read a few summaries of it, allows me to read more quickly, being somewhat familiar with its arguments.

I’d like to give at least a few of these scholars some recognition here, but, having spent many late nights most of the last week with them, am not going to give any lengthy summary or review. Just a few notes. Many of the articles are in journals that available online: if you have access, and are interested in the accredited work in this field, track them down and give them a read.

Barton, Anne. “The Staple of News and Eastward Ho!Ben Jonson Dramatist. Cambridge: U of Cambridge P, 1994. 237-257. [Barton’s literary biography of Jonson is fairly influential in the world of Jonson criticism, and is an entertaining read as well.]

Champion, Larry S. “Allegory of the Golden Mean.” Ben Jonson’s ‘Dotages’: a reconsideration of the late plays. Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 1967. 45-75. [An early (and one of the few) examinations of the morality conventions of The Staple of News.]

DiGangi, Mario. “Sexual Slander and Working Women in The Roaring Girl.” Renaissance Drama 32 (2003). 147-76. [A Marxian examination of the madonna-whore complex in Jacobean London and city comedies.]

Farmer, Alan B. “Play-Reading, News-Reading, and Ben Jonson’s the Staple of News.” The Book of the Play: Playwrights, Stationers. and Readers in Early Modern England. Ed. Marta Straznicky. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2006. 127-158. [One of the most recent evaluations placing The Staple of News in the context of the developing news-trade and the Thirty Years War (most critical studies on Staple are done on this subject).]

Garber, Marjorie. “The Logic of the Transvestite: The Roaring Girl (1608).” Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. Ed. David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass. New York: Routledge, 1991. 221-234. [A neat (and influential) Lacanian study of Moll.]

Gurr, Andrew. Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. [The social and economic conditions of playgoing. in early modern London.]

Jordan, Constance. Renaissance Feminism: Literary Texts and Political Models. Ithacaand London: Cornell UP, 1990. [A good general study of feminism and gender theories in the Renaissance (Continental and English).]

Kuchar, Gary. “Rhetoric, Anxiety, and the Pleasures of Cuckoldry in the Drama of Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton.” JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory. 31.1 (2001). 1-30. [A neat Lacanian study of Jonson’s Volpone, The Devil Is an Ass and Middleton’s A Mad World, My Masters.]

Levine, Laura. Men in Women’s Clothing: Anti-theatricality and effeminization, 1579-1642. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. [One of the framing texts for my entire paper.]

Maus, Katherine Eisaman. “A Womb of His Own: Male Renaissance Poets in the Female Body.” Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Texts, Images. Ed. James Grantham Turner. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. 266-288. [A discussion of male poets’ appropriation of the womb.]

Newman, Karen. “Engendering the News.” The Elizabethan Theatre, XIV. Ed. A.L. Magnusson and C.E. McGee. Toronto: Meaney, 1996. 49-69. [Contains a discussion of the allegorising of “news” as a woman, and the conventions of morality drama. A significant portion of my Jonson discussion for this chapter is in response to this article.]

Orgel, Stephen. Impersonations: The performance of gender in Shakespeare’s England. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996. [A discussion of masculinity and its relationship with anti-theatricality in early modern London. The other framing text for my entire paper (alongside Levine and Butler).]

Reynolds, Bryan, and Janna Segal. “The Reckoning of Moll Cutpurse: Transversal Reimaginings of The Roaring Girl.” Transversal Enterprises in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: Fugitive Explorations. Ed. Bryan Reynolds. New York: Palgrave, 2006. 27-63. [A post-Marxian study of the ways critics have appropriated the figure of Moll in counter-hegemonic ways.]

End Notes:

[i] “simulated things.” Previously known as “Chapter One.”

[ii] non-material world. Well, alright, the internet is not really non-material: I mean, it has text, after all: and I seem to remember Juliet Fleming writes quite a bit about the materiality of sound (of words) itself in her Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2001), one of the more fascinating readings in 4V04* last term. For all it’s textual (and other) materiality, however, I can’t help but feel sometimes that the internet is somewhat of a metaphysical entity. In that I don’t really understand it. Which is a bit frightening, when I consider how my studies, my job, and this archive itself, depends almost entirely on it and other computer-related technology.

14 May 2008

Glossary of Terms:

*4V04. “Early Modern Textual Collections,” a course devoted to the examination of the development of the printing press, the commonplace book, and the modern library, as well the theories of knowledge behind these developments, and the social, political, and theological ramifications of the same. The course relied half on the study of original documents (or at least facsimiles of these downloaded from EEBO), and half on contemporary critical studies of the same.


4 thoughts on ““‘let them pass / As transitory things’: Simulated bodies in The Staple of News and The Roaring Girl.”[i]

  1. Thanks for posting all those resources…I immediately went to buy one (“Playgoing in Shakespeare’s England”) and download a few others.

  2. That wasn’t a smiley face…it was just a close-bracket. I don’t know how that happened. Not that you don’t deserve a smiley face…

  3. I love Andrew Gurr, though I’m suspicious about his strange strange love for appendices. Footnotes are one thing, but appendices…?

  4. Pingback: Sources, sources, sources! « The Blotted Line

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