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Hoarding the Renaissance: The Matter of Ecology in Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Middleton

Rose, McKenna Suzanne (2017)
Dissertation (161 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Cahill, Patricia
Committee Members: Bennington, Geoffrey ; Brownley, Martine W ; Knecht, Ross M
Research Fields: British and Irish literature
Keywords: Ecocriticism; New Materialism; Stage Properties
Program: Laney Graduate School, English
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rzf3f

Abstract

This dissertation argues that the Renaissance theater (1576-1642) is a hoard, or a constellation objects, actors, and language that survive from prior contexts before taking their places on stage. Small properties, textual fragments, costumes, and even actors' bodies recycle onto the stage to communicate to audiences themes of accumulation and survival, as hoarding motivates the very plots of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (1588), William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610-11) and Cymbeline (1609-10), and Thomas Middleton's A Trick to Catch the Old One (1605). Material cultural studies, the scholarship which traces the historical conditions of nearly all of the objects that composed the early modern theater, informs this project. I draw out ecocritical resonances latent in the scholarship of early modern material culture to suggest that nothing was ever really thrown out in Marlowe and Shakespeare's London. Instead, and as critics show, pawned objects were recycled into properties, threadbare livery was pulped into paper, and new ships were built from the salvage of wrecked ones. I reroute the hoard, the stuff that Gil Harris calls the "positive residua" (116) of the theater, which is expressed at both the level of fiction and at the material level of objects and actors who transmit that fiction, through contemporary ecocritical terms to explain the persistence networks of meaning. The constant cycling and recycling of linguistic and material matter, which compose the Renaissance theater, resonates with the danger anthropocentric ecological change poses to the modern world.

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