MLA 2017


308. Marlowe and the Book

Friday, January 6, 2017, 1:45 to 3:00 p.m., 112B, Pennsylvania Convention Center

Presiding: Claire M. L. Bourne, Pennsylvania State University


1. "Marketing Marlowe: Manuscript Transmission and the Making of Authors," Aaron T. Pratt, Trinity University

In 1590, Richard Jones published the Tamburlaine plays without an attribution to Marlowe. No edition of them that followed in the next fifteen years carried one, either. But three other playbooks that emerged in or right around 1594 did: Dido, Queen of Carthage; Edward II; and Massacre at Paris. They all name Marlowe prominently. The most obvious difference between them and Tamburlaine, of course, is that they hit the press after Marlowe died in the spring of 1593. Were the manuscripts that made their way to stationers ones in Marlowe’s possession when he died? Even if not, was the publicity surrounding his death enough to ensure that his name stayed firmly attached to the documents that suddenly became available? In this talk, I will argue that the case of Marlowe’s playbooks raises broader questions about the circumstances that led to printed playbooks being “authored” and that, ultimately, attending to Marlowe helps to upend the narrative we tell about the rise of dramatic authorship in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. 


2. "Posthumous Marlowe," Adam G. Hooks, University of Iowa

The best thing that ever happened to Christopher Marlowe was getting stabbed in a tavern in Deptford. This shocking incident made Marlowe famous, as he was praised for his poetic ability and denounced for his depravity. The death of the author seems to have been the necessary precondition for his resurrection in print, as the early modern book trade turned “Christopher Marlowe” into a successful poet and playwright. Marlowe should be the primary exemplar for the ways in which print defines and shapes an authorial reputation. But the manner of Marlowe’s death was also the worst thing that ever happened to Marlowe studies. Biographies continue to imitate the initial puritanical reactions to Marlowe’s demise by creating sensational stories about his life, while studies of the plays often seek to find a Marlovian aesthetic inevitably inflected by those very biographical stories. By focusing only on the documentary records of his life, Marlowe biography has been exhausted. We need to move from theorizing about Marlowe’s life to analyzing and historicizing his afterlife in print—that is, we need to practice a posthumous criticism that can construct a Marlovian bio-bibliography. This paper will reassess the shifting canon and reputation of Marlowe in print by arguing for the importance of what happened after Marlowe but before Marlowe studies.


3. "'marked thus †': The Jew of Malta (1633) and the Typography of Irony," Claire M. L. Bourne, Pennsylvania State University

This paper will focus on a typographic anomaly in Nicholas Vavasour’s 1633 edition of The Jew of Malta — the appearance of a single dagger glyph (†) in the speech where Barabas explains to his daughter Abigail where to find his buried money: “The boord is marked thus that couers it” (sig. D1r). An unusual amount of care has been taken typographically to account for the complex logistics of Barabas’ speech: lines addressed to the friars who have “converted” Abigail to Christianity are printed in Roman type, while lines delivered as asides to Abigail are printed in Italic type. The † accounts for the gesture that the actor playing Barabas presumably made in performance to accompany his deictic “thus.” But it also recalls the long textual history of using the cross pattée (@) in both scribal and printed liturgical texts as a prompt to make the sign of the cross. I will contextualize the † within the textual history of the @ in order to suggest that Barabas’s “making the sign of the cross” in performance, and its textual correlative, were designed to register ironically. The friars would not have heard Barabas’s verbal asides to Abigail, but they would have seen this gesture, which Barabas purposely uses as a pretence to veil his collusion with Abigail, and as such, makes it signify to spectators and readers the opposite of what it would have meant to the friars. In short, this coincidence of word and action so carefully recorded in the text can be read as a micro-moment of Marlovian ambiguity. I will also consider whether the attention paid to the typographical arrangement of this particular speech reflects a fidelity to scribal playhouse copy or a concerted effort on the part of the quarto’s stationers to render performance dynamics legible to its readers.


4. "Documenting Marlowe: Affordances and Opportunities of Digital First Editions in the Classroom," Meaghan Brown & Elizabeth Williamson, Folger Shakespeare Library

In 2016, the Folger’s Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama began its first phase of documentary editing by creating a complete set of the first editions of Christopher Marlowe. In June, the Digital Anthology invited a select group of scholars to the Folger to explore these texts and their application in the undergraduate classroom in “Beyond Access: Early Modern Digital Texts in the Classroom,” an NEH-funded workshop. In this paper, the editors of the Digital Anthology will consider the role of digital editing in understanding and teaching Marlowe and Marlowe’s distinctive attractions as an author, particularly for creating a digital corpus of early modern plays. In addition to presenting the editorial theory behind the creation of a reliable, flexible, and reusable Marlowe corpus, we would address the pedagogical benefit of introducing undergraduate students to first editions of early modern plays through digital editions, including opportunities for analyzing the history of printing and problematizing performance by examining early modern stage directions. We will detail current opportunities for encountering and editing Marlowe digitally and explore the analytical approaches possible when an author’s entire corpus is available in reliable transcription and consistent encoding. 

MLA 2016


389. Edward II on Place and in Time

Friday, January 8, 2016

PresidingKirk Melnikoff, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

1. "'Find a Dusty Old Play and Violate It': Edward II in Performance," Andrea Stevens, University of Illinois, Urbana

2. "'Over-peered' or '(Un)Equal at Last'? Conforming Transgression and Rank in Edward II," James R. Siemon, Boston Univerisity

3. "Alarums: Edward II and the Staging of History," Lucy Munro, King's College London

MLA 2015


276. Marlowe's Queer Futurity

Friday, January 9, 2015

Presiding: Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College

1. "Marlowe's Queer Jew," Judith D. Haber, Tufts University

2. "Edward's Futures," Jeffrey Masten, Northwestern University

3. "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Children," Stephen Guy-Bray, University of British Columbia

MLA 2014


364. Christopher Marlowe and Vulnerable Times

Friday, January 10, 2014

1. Players and Playbooks on the Move in Vulnerable Times," Roslyn L. Knutson, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

2. "The 1580s and Vulnerability," Mary Hill Cole, Mary Baldwin College

3. "The Representation of Vulnerability in Marlowe's Edward II," William Casey Caldwell, Northwestern University

MLA 2013


615. Marlowe and His Others 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Presiding: Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College

1. “Sensing Massacre’s Others,” Patricia Cahill, Emory University

2. “Stranger to Profit: The Anti-Capitalist Jew of Malta," James J. Marino, Cleveland State University

3. “Dr. Faustus' Leg," Genevieve Love, Colorado College