9:00-10:00 Blackfriars Theatre
Keynote: “Characterizing Marlowe”
Laurie Maguire, Magdalen College,
Oxford University
Session Chair: Sara Munson Deats, University of South Florida

The address asks: what does it mean to be a character in a Marlowe play? Following in the wake of Ruth Lunney’s excellent work, this keynote investigates a Marlovian innovation in dramatic character—an innovation, she argues, that the revisers of the B-text Faustus deliberately reversed, returning Faustus’ interiority to a pre-Marlovian tradition.

10:30-11:45 Blackfriars Playhouse
Marlowe in Retrospect and Future Possibilities
Session Chair: Mary Hill Cole, Mary Baldwin College

Sara Munson Deats, University of South Florida
Doctor Faustus: A History of Controversy

Critical consensus identifies Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, probably written sometime between 1588 and 1593, as the first great tragedy in the English language, a provocative drama that ushered in 30 years of unparalleled creativity on the English stage. However, Marlowe’s most often read and most frequently performed play also offers the ultimate scholarly conundrum. Almost every aspect of the play has been questioned: the correct text has been disputed; the date has been contested; the authorship of the comic sections has been challenged; and, most significant of all, the meaning of the play has been vigorously debated. However, since I have been asked to pack the infinite riches of 450 years of scholarship on Doctor Faustus into the little—indeed miniscule—room of a fifteen-minute paper, in my presentation I shall not discuss the controversies surrounding the date, authorship, or even the text of the play, but instead will focus on the controversial ethos of the drama, seeking to clarify the issues that have achieved critical consensus and those that have not. Moreover, I will briefly survey contemporary approaches to the play, attempting to identify the aspects of the drama that have received thorough treatment and those that have been neglected. Finally, I hope to suggest new and productive areas for scholarly exegesis on this most popular and most problematic of Marlowe’s plays.

Robert Logan, University of Hartford
Fathoming the Aesthetic of Ambiguity in Edward II

The year 2014 marks the 450th year since Christopher Marlowe’s birth. In contributing to the observance of this milestone, the following paper, “Fathoming the Aesthetic of Ambiguity in Edward II,” takes a brief look at what scholarship on the play has covered, what it has not, and what the focus of scholars will or should be next. For the most part, the essay will concentrate on one direction future criticism might take. Critics have tended to overlook the degree to which an aesthetic of ambiguity appears to pervade the play and, consequently, the implications of this dramaturgical strategy. Twentieth-century critics had of course noticed how multiple ambiguities prevent us from coming to clear and definite views about content, actions, and characterizations in the play. But they did not consider the extent to which ambiguity is and is not an aesthetic choice. Nor did they examine how and why throughout the play ambiguity helps to obscure a clear perspective on personal and sociopolitical moral issues. To the extent that ambiguity is a dramaturgical strategy, we need to ask whether it suggests that Marlowe sees a division between theatre as entertainment and theatre as a moral instrument and whether, ultimately, the play entertains without making or even wanting to make a moral imprint on its audiences? I hope to examine Marlowe’s ambiguity in the play in an effort to come to some conclusions about the link between ambiguity and his aesthetic inclinations.

Tom Rutter, University of Sheffield
Tamburlaine at War

In his recent bibliographical survey (published in the inaugural edition of Marlowe Studies: An Annual), Bruce Brandt identifies critical interest in the depiction of war in Tamburlaine as one of the most “significant trends” in Marlowe studies between 2000 and 2009. Although this interest was already in evidence by the late 1990s, since 2001 a number of critics have suggested that the two plays gain a new relevance in an era characterised both by anxiety about terrorist violence in western nations and by large-scale military action in territories that formed part of the historical Timur’s empire. The current paper will examine whether a comparable sense of the plays’ renewed currency prevailed during an earlier period characterised by global warfare, namely that of 1939-45. Did critics of Tamburlaine during and after the Second World War connect the plays’ depictions of violence and warfare with the events of their own time? And did the experience of World War II have an identifiable effect on critical approaches to Tamburlaine?

1:00-2:15 Hunt Gallery, Mary Baldwin College
Art and the State
Session Chair: Laura Grace Godwin, Christopher Newport University

Joel M. Dodson, Southern Connecticut State University
Marlowe, Sidney, and the Poverty of Aesthetics

This paper examines poverty as an alternative lens for reading Marlowe’s aesthetics, drawing upon Sidney’s Defence of Poesy and the recent work of Jacques Ranciere in relation to the horse-courser scene in Act Four of Doctor Faustus. Recent discussions of Marlowe’s aesthetics have struggled to point beyond the restrictive language of the Baines note and its perverted messianic logic. Seizing on the prospect of a playwright who purportedly scoffed at the right to coin and the “prodigal child’s portion,” these critics have embraced the subversive materialism of the Marlovian stage—pointing to the filthy lucre at the heart of Christian mimesis (Parker), or the ethical conflict that trumps aesthetic representation itself (Gallagher). In this essay, I argue that Marlowe stages in his poor a more positive vision of what Ranciere terms the “dissensus,” or forms of division, on which the aesthetic re-distribution of the material world rests. Marlowe’s Horse-Courser may seem like the merely comic victim of Faustus’s theatrical abuse, a concrete instance of the thievery at the heart of its messianic overreach (see A-Text, 4.1.130-1); yet his plight also alludes to the framework of Elizabethan aesthetics by which Marlowe’s stage perpetually assumes its counter or oppositional position. In The Defence of Poesy, Sidney’s refutation of Plato involved not only lauding the golden virtues of poetic mimesis but divorcing it from those servile professions that “labor to tell what is” rather than what “should be”—a move that preserved the ethical and religious value of dramatic representation, even as it condemned its prodigal and servile practitioners, who write for laughs. Marlowe’s Horse-Courser, I suggest, discloses this conflictual basis at the heart of Sidneyan aesthetics. In his haste to ride Faustus’s horse into water, the Horse-Courser embodies the urgency of the poor artisan whose work cannot wait—the social conflict of the Platonic world from which Sidney attempts to liberate the poet—while also exposing the utter pointlessness of Faustus’s stage antics, for which no ethical or religious purpose can be inferred. Rather than a sympathetic voice of the poor, Marlowe thus stages in the Horse-Courser what Ranciere calls a purely “aesthetic dimension.” His appearance in the fourth act of Doctor Faustus makes insistently visible not only the material world of Marlowe’s stage but the social and vocational order that renders Marlovian aesthetics a site of conflict in the first place.

Judith Haber, Tufts University
Marlowe’s Queer Jew

In earlier work, I investigated Marlowe’s (and Marlowe’s characters’) involvement in what I termed “pointless play,” an aestheticism that is (as far as possible, which is never entirely) pure, lacking any point, sexual, intellectual, or textual. One of the prime examples of this is of course, Edward II; the play that bears his name relies on traditional (and anti-theatrical) definitions of sodomy as the principle of indefinition itself, as a metaphor, in effect, for metaphoricity. In this paper, I argue that Marlowe’s presentation of Barabas in The Jew of Malta operates similarly on many levels. It depends, in part, on the common perception in Protestant England that Judaism (and by extension Catholicism) invests itself in the “letter” rather than the “spirit,” in surface rather than depth. That investment is shared by Marlowe’s texts, which evidence an extreme distrust of inwardness and depth, a distrust that is succinctly expressed in ironic praise of Catholicism in the Baines libel: “That if there be any god or any good Religion, then it is in the papistes because the service of god is performed with more Cerimonies, as Elevation of the mass, organs, singing men, Shaven Crowns, & cta. That all protestantes are Hypocriticall asses.” This famous passage itself seems to echo one of the central statements in The Jew of Malta: “A counterfeit profession is better / Than unseen hypocrisy” of a statement that manages to suggest, beyond its first meaning, that any claim to “unseen” substance is itself hypocritical; all that exists is counterfeit show.

While developing work by Greenblatt and Deats and Starks work to demonstrate Barabas’s—and the play’s—investment in the letter rather than the spirit, I take this idea further by considering how both are involved in other, interconnected forms of pointless play. The word “spirit” is itself punned upon to associate Christians not only (hypocritically) with the unseen spirit, but also with semen—and the pun is not, I would assert, merely incidental. Barabas’ distance from one type of spirit is paralleled by (is identical to) his distance from the other: despite the presence of his daughter, he is systematically removed from the processes of biological reproduction. His manic search for and destruction of “heirs” throughout the play both call up and undermine what has come to be known as “reproductive futurism.” Here, I draw upon Lee Edelman’s seminal work in No Future, as well as my own ongoing exploration of the motif of the adopted son in Renaissance texts. I consider Barabas’s relation to Abigail (who in contrast to Jessica in The Merchant of Venice seems to have materialized through paternal parthenogenesis, and who, despite being trumpeted as Barabas’s “heir,” is cut off from reproductive possibilities and repeatedly associated with images of sacrificial death), as well as to Ithamore, who replaces her as “heir,” to Ferneze, and ultimately to himself. Together, these self-consuming relations form a creative/destructive process that Jonson understood well when he had his title character in Volpone (a play dependent on this one in so many respects) declare: “I have no [family]. . . / To give my substance to; but whom I make / Must be mine heir.” And they help to define Barabas (and the play in general) as intensely queer.

David Hershinow, Princeton University
Marlowe’s Machevill: Rational Detachment, Diagnostic Psychology, and the Rise of the Arch-Villain

In this paper, I use Christopher Marlowe’s Jew of Malta as a lens through which to examine the cultural work that gets routed (in early modernity and beyond) through the figure of the arch-villain. Alongside an emerging Humanist discourse in which rational detachment correlates with the broader social good, a counter-discourse develops that views the exercise of dispassionate reason as decisive evidence of an individual’s malevolent disposition; as the contestatory discourses of rational detachment and diagnostic psychology co-develop, the figure of the arch-villain increasingly emerges as a cite of intense cultural cathexis. In the Jew of Malta, Marlowe demonstrates a keen insight into the interplay of these two discourses, especially as they converge in the reception of Machiavelli’s political philosophy in sixteenth-century England. Whereas Barabas presents English viewers with an opportunity to reject the Machiavellian stance as foreign and pathalogically Other, Ferneze (the Christian governor of Malta) practices a subtler and more authentic Machiavellianism that restores Malta to a state of political and religious integrity. By situating a pathologized depiction of Machiavellianism alongside a positive portrayal of Machiavellian rational action, Marlowe makes it harder for his English audience to ignore the fact that they are dealing with two faces of the same coin (and that it is a currency already in circulation.)

Simon May, Oxford University
Reason of State in The Massacre at Paris

Focusing on The Massacre at Paris, this paper reconsiders Marlowe’s interest in the moral and practical issues surrounding contemporary theories of statecraft. A great deal of scholarship has centred on the relative Machiavellianism of Marlowe’s characters, but the playwright’s engagement with the theory of Reason of State has not been discussed in detail. As a result, some of the political subtleties of The Massacre have gone unnoticed. Previously disregarded as crude Protestant propaganda, more recently the play has been seen as an ambiguous text designed to reveal the capacity for evil on both sides of the confessional divide. It has been argued that Marlowe highlights the bad behaviour of Protestant and Catholic alike—that he shows the future Henry IV to be just as reprehensible as the dastardly Duke of Guise, a noted Machiavel. This reading rests, of course, on the assumption that only evil characters employ unsavoury tactics. But when we take into account the advent of a more open acknowledgement of Reason of State as the most effective style of government, it becomes difficult to conclude that Marlowe’s intention was not to do something more than highlight the equivalence of Protestant and Catholic guilt. In this paper, I suggest that the play functions rather as a complex interrogation of the circumstances that justify a leader’s decision to deviate from the path of princely virtue. By placing The Massacre within the immediate context of its first performance on 26th January 1593, I further argue that Marlowe wrote the play in response to current concerns about English foreign policy. The offer of assistance to Henry IV was to be debated in Parliament the following month, and it is likely that pro-interventionists would have welcomed a play that refuted the accusations of Catholic polemic. But rather than assert the Protestant line as straightforwardly as possible, it is noticeable that Marlowe uses The Massacre to pursue another interest—in the theory of Reason of State—and thereby complicate the unqualified opposition of good and evil on which political argument tended to rest. That is to say, in The Massacre we find a dramatist whose work can support a policy position without sacrificing the subtlety of art. I conclude, therefore, that recognizing the complexity of The Massacre should be enough to discourage us from assuming that Renaissance drama can do nothing else but criticize or endorse, undermine or reinforce the policies of the Elizabethan regime. My argument contributes to the understanding that the political positions of Renaissance literature cannot be reduced to the simple formula of power and subversion.

1:00-2:15 Miller Chapel, Mary Baldwin College
Marlowe’s Living Classicism
Session Chair: Richard Dutton, Ohio State University

Christine Edwards, University of Queensland
Bookish Play: Imitation and Authority in Dido, Queen of Carthage

When the intertextual borrowings of a work are recognised, questions of originality or indebtedness inevitably rise. Following the humanist technique of imitatio, Renaissance writers commonly mined ancient or well-established texts as a source of eloquence and inspiration, and yet similar anxieties of originality surface even among celebrated writers. Jonson’s theorising on the subject served to not only categorise correct imitation against the “scurrile scoffing” of the ancients, but to justify his own imitative style. Marlowe writes no such justification, and it is perhaps for this reason that traditionally Dido, Queene of Carthage has been regarded as a piece of juvenile imitation that lacks the sophistication of his later works. Dido reworks books one, two, and four of Virgil’s Aeneid, at times paraphrasing, translating, or even directly quoting the original Latin. Despite this close textual relationship, Dido retains a playful and deeply satiric tone. In the past this has attracted criticism, with critics arguing it is a poor imitation that is both too close to Virgil and yet fails to properly mimic his eloquence and emotional range. Yet increasingly studies are recognising different, and often conflicting, intertextual voices within the play. This has revealed that while Marlowe draws most of his material from Virgil, he was not seeking to imitate the Aeneid in the way that traditional theories of imitation would suggest. Critics such as Mary E. Smith, Patrick Cheney, and Timothy D. Crowley have led investigations into this intertextual dimension and have argued that despite drawing material from Virgil, the spirit of the play is Ovidian. While this scholarship is immensely valuable, it obscures what I see to be his radical take on the imitative mode. For Marlowe imitation is more than an academic exercise in eloquence: instead of seeking to carefully mimic the voice of a literary master, or even write the definitive account of Dido’s myth, the play reflects on the authorities behind mythmaking itself. The metatextual play that emerges is as much about the authority of Virgil and Ovid to dictate this myth as it is about Dido and Aeneas’s part in it. In this paper I argue that Marlowe restructures intertextual exchange into a mode that interrogates systems of literary authority, even as it imitates them. To understand what he is doing with his array of intertexts, we first need to recognise his own quite radical agency in this “bookish” play.

Tetsuro Shimizu, Ochanomizu University
François Portus, Isaac Casaubon, and Marlowe’s reading of Greek Poetry

This paper examines how Marlowe read Greek poetry, and proposes a hypothesis about the possible sources for his works in imitation of classical and post-classical Greek poets. Gordon Braden demonstrated that Marlowe read some Greek and used a Greek-Latin edition of Musaeus when he was writing his Hero and Leander. This paper examines a series of Genevan editions of Greek poems in the sextodecimo format, and poses a hypothesis about the influence of two classical scholars, François Portus and Isaac Casaubon, on Marlowe’s reading of Greek poetry. Special attention will be paid to Portus’ contribution, as a translator and editor, to the 1570 and 1580 editions of the Iliad, and to Casaubon’s as a critic on Theocritus and Musaeus Grammaticus. My source study is also related to Marlowe’s song, “Come live with me and be my love,” and what was reported as his translation of Colluthus’ short epic. Small books in the sextodecimo or duodecimo format are especially important when we study the reading conditions of students and graduate students of Marlowe’s time. Access to college libraries was limited to Fellows, so students, whether graduate or undergraduate, had to acquire their own copies either by purchasing or by receiving what their senior friends gave away after their use. Therefore it was crucial that student editions were handy and of affordable prices and contained materials which would meet their need and taste, at the same time. When I examine the texts of what I assume to have been Marlowe’s likely source editions, I will especially pay attention to the following two points. How far was Marlowe aware of the fact that Musaeus was not really an ancient poet? How far did Marlowe owe his poetic and rhetorical styles to traditional styles of classical and post-classical Greek poets. My study critically appreciates what Gordon Braden’s important study on Hero and Leander has demonstrated and suggested, and owes a lot to the bibliographical studies by Jean-François Gilmont, Philip Ford and others.

M. L. Stapleton, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne
Ovid as Playwright: The Massacre at Paris

Marlowe’s apparent delight in presenting emotionally bizarre perspectives in his works sometimes obscures a vein of traditional morality that those who enjoy presenting him as a rebel and transgressor do not generally examine. W. L. Godshalk said of him forty years ago, “His vision is radical in its criticism, conservative in its nature. He is never a preacher but always a seer, and his moral vision of the insanely aggressive world is turned into art.” Though this observation may now seem overstated, its core implications are worth consideration when applied to the plays. Perhaps it is, in a word, wrong to practice necromancy, or to alienate one’s barons by granting authoritative powers to an incompetent favorite, or to murder one’s children although they have committed egregious offenses such as military cowardice or conversion to a religion one finds abhorrent. Fornication, even if sanctioned by ancient authorities such as Musaeus and Ovid, is still fornication. Perhaps, then, the macabre humor of a play such as The Massacre at Paris should be regarded as suspect, as well as the visions and comments of its amoral characters, none of whose opinions Marlowe was likely to have endorsed, even at his most subversive, transgressive, and rebellious. He may have honed these skills as a moralist while engaging in what may have been his first work of literary production, his rendition of Ovid’s Amores into closed English couplets, which appears in two forms, Certaine of and All Ovids Elegies(c. 1595). At several junctures, he appears to allude to this translation or recreate tableaux from its narrative in order to comment on the depravities in Massacre, especially the scene in which the anonymous Soldier guards the Guise’s household from the cuckolding Mugeroun, the favorite of his deadly enemy, Henri III. In this frenetic world, the Ovidian narrator of the Elegies replicates himself repeatedly, in allusion, in diverse tableaux, and especially in the Guise, as well as in the implied figure of the playwright that Marlowe projects, guided by his own judicious and sardonic master direction.

Sarah Wall-Randell, Wellesley College
The Pharsalia and Marlowe’s Sibyl

In his translation of Book I of Lucan’s Pharsalia, Marlowe makes an interesting change to the original’s account of the various portents of doom that appear to the inhabitants of Rome in advance of civil war. Lucan describes the prophecies of the oracle of Cumae being repeated by the Romans, while the Galli, the priests of Cybele, “whirling their gory hair, cried disaster.” Marlowe, however, omits the Galli and transposes the reference to Cumae into their place, making it the “Sibils priests” who “Curling their bloudy lockes, howle dreadfull things” (564-65). Such a revision, placing extra emphasis on the Sibyl, is striking in light of the complex associations sibyls carried for sixteenth-century English readers. For early moderns, the classical sibyls are persistently identified with the ephemerality and untrustworthiness of texts, both in their materiality and as they are transmitted across history—we might think here of the Cumean sibyl, who, in the Aeneid, writes her prophecies on leaves that are blown and scattered by the wind, and in Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, burns her priceless books of prophecy before the astonished Tarquin. The Oracula Sibyllina familiar to early modern readers, furthermore, were not those ancient texts at all, which, too, had been lost, but medieval and contemporary reconstructions written with a marked eye toward the present, “foretelling” historical, political and religious events with suspicious accuracy; at the end of the sixteenth century, thanks to new and more rigorous techniques of textual analysis, the Sybilline Oracles were being discredited. Marlowe’s choice in the translation subverts some of what we think we know both about his tastes and about the attitudes of educated early modern English readers toward the Classical past. By replacing the colorful, even salacious Galli (transvestite eunuch-priests who ritually castrated themselves in devotion to their goddess) with a potent marker of doubt in the validity and accessibility of ancient texts to Renaissance readers, Marlowe writes not to thrill and titillate but to caution, and his translation becomes less a representation of the way in which Latin poetry was like a second mother tongue to university-educated Englishmen, and more of an emblem of early modern awareness of what a treacherous gulf separated the Classical past from present understanding.

2:30-3:45 Hunt Gallery, Mary Baldwin College
Forms and Pressures
Session Chair: Ann Basso, University of South Florida

Edward Gieskes, University of South Carolina
Profit and Delight: Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and the New Science

In The Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon describes what he sees as a proper relation between the human knower and knowledge:

First, That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge as we forget our mortality: the second, That we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves repose and contentment, and not distaste or repining: the third, That we do not presume by contemplation of nature to attain to the mysteries of God

Marlowe’s Faustus fails to heed all three of these maxims and that failure contributes to his downfall. This paper will argue that Bacon’s scientific project and Marlowe’s theatrical one have common ground in an exploration and critique of contemporary modes of knowledge. It will also suggest that both resonate with Horkheimer and Adorno’s critique of enlightenment in Dialectic of Enlightenment. Bacon’s optimism about the eventual fruits of knowledge contrasts Marlowe’s apparent pessimism about those fruits. Ends, the purpose and trajectory of knowledge, are the central questions in these works. For Bacon, purpose governs ends—if a work begins in the intent to serve humanity, it is likely to be good or at least not harmful. Marlowe’s play suggests that this is a far less certain outcome. Using Bacon as a touchstone, Horkheimer and Adorno point out how the very project of enlightenment contains the potential for destruction within it from the start. This paper takes Faustus’ quest for knowledge seriously—arguing that he is to be understood as a scholar in the process of developing or acquiring new knowledge and that that process is one problem that Marlowe’s play explores. If the play stages the alienation of theatrical labor, as Richard Halpern has recently argued, it is also staging the dangers of an alienable knowledge that possesses the knower rather than the other way around.

Stephanie Moss, University of South Florida
The Jew of Malta and the Maccabees

In the Prologue to Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, the Machiavel suggests that religion is a “toy.” In this paper, I will argue that religion functions not merely as a toy but also as a chess piece in the very serious “game” of post-Reformation politics. My argument rests on Barabbas’ reference to the Maccabees in act one two scene one of the play.

In this scene, Barabbas cites the Maccabees to manipulate Katherine and cover his separate manipulation of her son, Mathias. When the Jew tells Katherine that the conversation with her son was merely a discussion about the Maccabees, he does so to assure her that the exchange was biblical rather than heretical. However because the Old Testament that Barabbas ostensibly represents as a Jew rejects the books of Maccabee as non-canonical, Barabbas here uses religion to toy with Katherine.

The reference to the Maccabees also represents an important cultural coordinate for the post-Reformation melee between the Protestants and the Catholics. Between 1545 and 1563, the Council of Trent added the books of Maccabee to editions of the Catholic bible while the 1560 edition of the Reformation Geneva bible, the one used by Marlowe, excluded them. Thus, the Maccabees can be seen as one point of departure for the battle between the Protestant and Catholic religions that consumed the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Significantly, Barabbas’ reference to the Maccabees also implicates the legacy of medieval morality plays; Everyman offers the name of Judas Maccabee as an emblem of loyalty. As David Bevington points out in Tudor Drama and Politics, Everyman praises priests as above the angels but also exposes cracks in the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. On one hand Everyman celebrates priests; on the other the play criticizes priests as corrupt. Thus according to Bevington, Everyman subtly expresses distain toward future cleric and courtiers that would represent a vital power in the Tudor court. Barabbas’ use of the Maccabees, therefore, also implicates Elizabethan court politics.

Barabbas may be toying with religion when he convinces Katherine that the Maccabees represent the biblical canon, and Marlowe’s may indeed be winking at the educated in his audience who knew that the Old Testament rejected the books of Maccabees, but the deadly serious aspect of the fleetingly reference can be interpreted as a metaphor for the life and death encounter between two religions that would as easily eliminate each other as Barabbas would blow up the island of Malta.

Meredith Skura, Rice University
Tamburlaine’s English DNA

Scythian Tamburlaine is marked as an unruly foreigner and Marlowe created him not from English chronicle and legend but from foreign histories and geographies. Yet in one of Tamburlaine’s most barbaric interludes (the banquet in 1.4), Marlowe leaves foreign and classical sources behind. Instead he is influenced by a very English romance, Richard Coeur de Lion, with a national hero whose notorious cannibalism supplies home-grown barbarities of its own.

2:30-3:45 Miller Chapel, Mary Baldwin College
Marlowe’s Stagecraft
Session Chair: Kirk Melnikoff, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Emma Atwood, Boston College
Material Mistakes in Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris

In Massacre at Paris, a pair of poisoned gloves is mistakenly delivered to the wrong Queen, beginning the chain of bloody scenes that follow. In Marlowe’s source text, however, this rumored event took place months before the massacre began. By dramaturgically collapsing the temporal plane, Marlowe emphasizes the importance of the mistaken poisoned gloves in the ensuing massacre. In this talk, I posit that this scene can help us understand Marlowe’s approach to dramaturgy.I argue that the glove is fatal not just because it is laced with poison, but moreover because it is a mistake. Specifically, Marlowe warns that mismanaged material objects can be fatal. Marlowe uses poisoned gloves to demonstrate the importance of skillful manipulation (literally, handling) of material objects.

Early modern gloves are loaded with cultural expectations about the individual’s connection to the object. But theatrical players are expected to skillfully manipulate other people’s material objects. Players use interchangeable props in order to evoke personal objects in fictional scenarios. In this way, the theatrical project impedes Marlowe’s warning against material mistakes. If objects in the theater are always interchangeable, the fatal result of mistaken materials that Marlowe dramatizes in Massacre at Paris is a commentary on the skill needed to effectively manage a play. It also expresses the paradoxical relationship between a material object in the theater and the material culture it represents.

Bob Hornback, Oglethorpe University
“Do ye hear?”: Extemporal Clowning in the A-Text of Doctor Faustus

Whereas the scenes of comic horseplay in the A-text of Doctor Faustus have sometimes been said to bear the purported stigmata of a so-called “reported” (memorially reconstructed) text, they may actually signal the continued influence of extemporal performance modes among stage clowns. In fact, the very traces of residual oral culture, improvisation, and scribal transcription found in the Clown’s part in the near-contemporary manuscript of The Book of Sir Thomas More (ca. 1592-3) also appear in these A-text clown scenes in Doctor Faustus. Consistent with the claim elsewhere (in Tamburlaine) that “poets” left “clownage” to paid professional improvisers, the clowning conceits in the Faustus A-Text do seem to have been extemporized. Implicit in this account is a call for a long overdue appreciation of early professional clowns’ collaborative efforts in planned improvisation. The affinity of their clowning with the main plot suggests that early clowns were given significant topics, words, and themes upon which they were expected to construct their extemporal parodies. Far from being what moderns sometimes like to characterize dismissively as digressive “comic relief,” the frequent repetition of key topics and words in clown scenes may instead have served the function of focusing audience attention on key themes in a culture in which literacy rates remained very low by modern standards and in which orality was thus still dominant. The best early clowns, then, seem to have aimed, ironically enough, “to set on some quantity of . . . spectators to laugh” while simultaneously playing meaningfully upon “some necessary question of the play” (Hamlet, 3.2). Indeed, this paper will argue, such extemporized clowning as that preserved in the A-text of Doctor Faustus could be anything but “unmeet for the matter.”

Genevieve Love, Colorado College
Doctor Faustus’ Leg

Toward the end of the long middle section of Doctor Faustus, a horse-courser to whom Faustus has sold a horse returns to ask for his money back after the horse turns into a “bottle of hay.” In making his demand, he yanks on Faustus’ leg, and is horrified when he seems to have pulled the leg clean off.  The horse-courser scene records a concern with corporeal integrity and wholeness—a concern powerfully echoed in the play’s bibliographical history. Indeed, I will argue that the problem of Faustus’two texts is negotiated in particular ways through the horse-courser episode, an episode that itself dramatizes some of the fantasies of loss and augmentation that structure the critical tradition. The power of corporeal models to our ways of talking about Faustus’ textual problem suggests the degree to which our conception of early modern textual forms is powerfully bound up with our investment in whole, coherent bodies. I will suggest that the two versions of Faustus we attribute to Marlowe offer particular versions of bodily compromise and coherence, in relation to which we may read the fantasies embedded in our scholarship and editing of the A- and B- texts, and in our shifting conceptions of the relationship between the texts. The complex forms of embodiment in the horse-courser scene, and in that scene’s continuation and elaboration in the B-text, stage more than simply bodily dismemberment and corporeal coherence.  The sequence of scenes featuring the horse-courser and Faustus’ missing or third leg complicate the shared diegetic and editorial concern with bodily integrity and wholeness by introducing amputation and prosthesis: rather than just wholeness or fragmentation, we are given to consider loss and subtraction, substitution and augmentation, and, ultimately, the ways in which wholeness is an effect, not a casualty, of both. The play of amputation and prosthesis in the horse-courser episode is a figure for—and is figured by—the dynamics of truncation and augmentation that shape Faustus’ textual history.

Jeanne McCarthy, Georgia Gwinnett College
“And now themselves shall make our pageants”: Marlowe’s Popular Stagecraft

Marlowe’s stagecraft has sometimes been characterized as offering an ironic advance upon the conventional morality play in which the allegory is more subtly “presented” than that of its predecessors; that his similarly subtle advance upon another early mode of performance, the pageant, informs the structure of Doctor Faustus and Marlowe’s other adult company plays has also been noted. As David Lawton observes, Doctor Faustus “reads more easily as a series of scenes rather than as a five-act structure,” an inference that points to its affinity with this popular pageant-like mode of performance in which the plot advances through self-narration within a dramatization of key, well-known moments in a narrative or history, yielding a succession of iconic scenes and lengthy speeches that require one to three characters and a chorus. Significantly, however, such a narrative technique is less evident in the full-scale, classically-structured dramatic form that informs Dido, Queen of Carthage, the product of Marlowe’s early collaboration with Thomas Nashe, and the only play Marlowe wrote for child players. This Children of Her Majesty’s Chapel play (printed in quarto 1594), thought to be either his first or second dramatic work, more closely resembles, not only in structure but in its characterization, those plays aligned with either Lyly’s children’s players or, later, Shakespeare’s adult companies than it does Marlowe’s other plays. In his adult company works, by contrast, Marlowe embraces the pageant-like structure appropriate for what has been characterized as the formal “medley” associated with the Queen’s Men and other early popular troupes. By abandoning the more neoclassically-inspired form still associated with the schools evident in the early play he had written with Nashe, Marlowe displays both restraint and a willingness to adapt his writing, style, and formal structure to a traditional and popular performance mode. In this paper, then, I propose reading Marlowe’s adult company works as reflecting the popular playing troupes’ repertory and style as they embarked on an era of professionalization in order to uncover traces of traditional popular modes of performance in Marlowe’s dramatic form and technique.

4:30-6:30 Visulite Theatre, 12 N. Augusta St.
Screening: The Jew of Malta

NOTE: The American Shakespeare Center will be offering Return to the Forbidden Planet at the Blackfriars Playhouse at 7.30. MSA members are entitled to a 20% discount. Click here for tickets.