Sources, sources, sources!

Here again, is my partial bibliography for chapter two. I note my commentary has extended somewhat compared to last time. I’ve tried to choose the more interesting articles and texts that are representative of both my interests, and the general critical debate around Jonson’s The New Inn. Interlibrary loan them, buy them, or cadge them from your friends!

Barber, C.L. Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and its Relation to Social Custom. Cleveland: World Publishing, 1967. [An older text, but Barber’s extended definitions and reflections on Shakespearean festive comedy offers the canonised criteria of the genre with which contemporary critics continue to work.]

Boeher, Bruce. “Ovid and the Dilemma of the Cuckold.” Ovid and the Renaissance Body. Ed. Goran V. Stanivukovic. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2001. 171-188. [Along with Gary Kuchar’s text on cuckoldry, Boeher’s works which examines the extremes of the early modern cuckold’s reactions in Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and Jonson’s Volpone, directed me to examine the relationship between cuckoldry, theatricality, and knowledge at the end of chapter two, and (forthcoming in chapter three), the impossibility of a poet/performer to have both complete control over the audience and the recognition of the poet’s genius.]

Bulman, James C. “Queering the Audience: All-Male Casts in Recent Productions of Shakespeare.” A Companion to Shakespeare and Performance. Eds. Barbara Hodgdon and WB Worthen Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 564-587. [An examination of the RSC’s recent performance of Twelfth Night, and Cheek-by-Jowl’s early ’90’s production of As You Like It. Bulman theorises that purported attempts to reclaim early modern performance conditions are only indicative of contemporary gender concerns.]

Dusinberre, Juliet. “Women and Boys Playing Shakespeare.” As You Like It: Essais Critiques. Eds. Jean-Paul Debax and Yves Peyre. Toulouse: PU du Mirail, 1998. 11-26. [An examination of how Shakespeare’s play-text draws attention to the body of the boy actor beneath the females represented on stage.]

Evans, Robert C. “’This Art Will Live’: Social and Literary Responses to Ben Jonson’s The New Inn.Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance England. Eds. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth. Columbia and London: U of Missouri P, 2000. 75-91. [After the failure of The New Inn on its opening night, Jonson wrote the infamous “Ode to Himself,” in which he criticises his audience’s poor taste in drama, and also promises to “leave the loathed stage.” Evans examines the plethora of contemporary poetic responses to this poem (some reprimanding Jonson for his petty reaction to his failure, some supporting the dramatist), and argues that, based on the commentary of these poems, Jonson’s play (contrary to the belief of many contemporary critics) was never valued/rejected for its political comments, but for its literary merit.]

Grace, Tiffany. “Experimental Androgynes: Falstaff, Ursula, and The New Inn.” Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny. Newark, London and Toronto: U of Delaware P, Associated UP, 1995. 136-169. [Tiffany’s article represents the half of the critical debate which argues that Jonson’s play is a (failed) attempt at serious Shakespearean romance. I find Tiffany’s argument rather reductive (and not because I feel the need to automatically side with Jonson here): it fails to account for the “problem ending” of Jonson’s Court of Love (an ending which, I think, in a Shakespearean comedy, would have gotten more attention from Tiffany, given that the text’s primary interest seems to be Will’s work), and suffers from a tendency to project biographical information into the play-text. This is a common problem in readings of the late plays: many critics have assumed that The New Inn, which was written after Jonson had suffered from stroke, must be of poorer quality than his earlier city comedies. Recent Jonson criticism has interrogated this assumption, which cannot explain how some of his most popular poetry (for example, his Cary-Morrison ode on friendship) and masques (Chloridia), were written simultaneously with The New Inn.]

Jameson, Frederick. “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York, London: Norton, 2001. 1960-1974. [Reading The Political Unconscious (or sections thereof) was one of the more torturous collective experiences of literary theory last term. Yet Jameson (like good old J. Derrida) seems to grow on one with repeated readings. Too, he is, like Raymond Williams, Paul DeMan, and Ernesto Laclau, one of the more significant post-structuralist/Post-Marxian literary critics, and one to whom contemporary feminist/environmentalist/political theorists (including Butler) are yet responding.]

Lin, Ya-Huei. “The Women Who Disappear on the Shakespearean Stage: As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, and the Misogynic Poetics of Deduction. Mysogynism in Literature: Any Place, Any Time. Ed. Britta Zangen. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2004. 59-70. [Lin offers a neat comparative reading of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and As You Like It; her discussion of male narcissistic speech in Jacques’s “All the world’s a stage,” monologue (along with the wonderful Anne Barton’s comparison of this speech with Jonson’s “All the world’s a play” parody) provided an interesting departure point in examining Shakespeare’s play as both supporting and subverting patriarchy.]

Sanders, Julie. “Alternative Societies: The New Inn and the Late Plays.” Ben Jonson’s Theatrical Republics, Basingstoke: Palgrove, 1998. 144-164. [Sanders has written a handful of articles on The New Inn, most of which offer a (naively optimistic) defense of Jonson as a quasi-proto-feminist. I tend to disagree with her on most accounts, but in this chapter she presents a well-researched analysis of the early modern inn as both a theatrical and a Bakhtinian carnivalesque space. (Now I just need to read more Bakhtin!)]

Stallybrass, Peter. “Transvestism and the ‘body beneath’: Speculating on the boy actor.” Erotic Politics: Desire on the Renaissance Stage. Ed. Susan Zimmerman. New York: Routledge, 1992. 64-83. [Speculations on what audiences “see” when encountered with moments of undressing “females” (boy actors) on (particularly the tragic) stage.]

Stewart, Andrew. “Some Uses for Romance: Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and Jonson’s The New Inn.” Renaissance Forum: An Electronic Journal of Early Modern Literary and Historical Studies 3.1 (1998). [Stewart represents the other half of the critical debate commonly surrounding the play: that is, that The New Inn is not meant as a serious romance, but a parody of that genre, constructed to provide political commentary on the Neoplatonic court of Charles I and Henrietta-Maria.]

12 June 2008


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