Imitation, Collaboration, and Competition in Middleton, Shakespeare, and Jonson

ENGL 82100, CUNY Graduate Center

Tanya Pollard

T 4:15-6:15, Fall 2010   Office: 4408 GC
Classroom: GC 3308  Office phone 212-817-8351
e-mail:    hours: T 3:15-4:15, and by appt.









Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (ca. 1587)

Lukas Erne, "Preface” and “Introduction," from Beyond the Spanish Tragedy*

Wendy Griswold, part of “Revenge Tragedy,” from Renaissance Revivals*

Barry B. Adams, "The Audiences of The Spanish Tragedy," JEGP 68:2 (1969), 221-236 (JSTOR)



no class; Friday conversion day



Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (ca 1592)

Jonathan Bate, "The Performance of Revenge: Titus Andronicus and The Spanish Tragedy."*

Tzachi Zamir, "Wooden Subjects," New Literary History 39:2 (2008), 277-300 (Muse)



Shakespeare, Hamlet (ca 1601)

Peter Sacks, "'Where Words Prevail Not': Grief, Revenge, and Language in Kyd and Shakespeare,"ELH 49.3 (1982), 576-601 (JSTOR)

David Scott Kastan, "'His semblable is his mirro'r’: Hamlet and the Imitation of Revenge," Shakespeare Studies 19 (1988), 111-124 (EBSCO)



Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy (1607)

Scott McMillin, "Acting and Violence: The Revenger's Tragedy and Its Departures from Hamlet," SEL 24.2 (1984), 275-91 (JSTOR)

J. L. Simmons, "The Tongue and Its Office in The Revenger’s Tragedy," PMLA 92:1 (1977), 56-68 (JSTOR)



Shakespeare, Timon of Athens (1604-6)

Robert B. Pierce, "Tragedy and Timon of Athens," Comparative Drama 36:1-2 (2002), 75-90 (LRC, HFT)

John Jowett, "Introduction," Timon of Athens*



Middleton and Rowley, A Trick to Catch the Old One (1605)

Brian Gibbons, "City comedy as a genre," in Jacobean City Comedy*

Scott Cutler Shershow, "The Pit of Wit: Subplot and Unity in Middleton's A Trick to Catch the Old One," Studies in Philology 88 (1991), 363-81 (JSTOR)



Jonson, Volpone (1606)

Gregory Chaplin, "'Divided Amongst Themselves': Collaboration and Anxiety in Jonson's Volpone", ELH 69:1 (2002), 57-81 (JSTOR)

Stephen Greenblatt, "The False Ending in Volpone," JEGP, 75 (1976), 90-104 (JSTOR)



Jonson, Epicoene (1609)

Adam Zucker, "The Social Logic of Ben Jonson's Epicoene," Renaissance Drama 33 (2004), 37-62.*

P. K. Ayers, “"Dreams of the City: The Urban and the Urbane in Jonson's Epicoene," Philological Quarterly 66 (1987), 73-86.*



Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl (1609-11)

Kelly J. Stage, "The Roaring Girl's London Spaces,"SEL 49:2 (2009), 417-436 (Muse)

Viviana Comensoli, "Play-Making, Domestic Conduct, and the Multiple Plot in The Roaring Girl," SEL 27:2 (1987), 249-66 (JSTOR)



Jonson, The Alchemist (1610)

Andrew Gurr, "Who is Lovewit? What is he?," from Ben Jonson and Theatre, 5-19 (Ebrary)

Anthony J. Ouellette, "The Alchemist and the Emerging Adult Private Playhouse," SEL 45:2 (2005), 375-99 (Muse)



Middleton, The Witch (ca.1616)

Peter Corbin and Douglas Sedge, "Introduction: The Witch," Three Jacobean Witchcraft Plays*

John F. McElroy, "Introduction," Parody and Burlesque in the Tragicomedies of Thomas Middleton*



Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling (ca.1622)

Marjorie Garber, "The Insincerity of Women," in Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1994) (Ebrary)

Hopkins, Lisa, "Beguiling the Master of the Mystery: Form and Power in The Changeling," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 9 (1997), 149-161 (Muse)



Last day of class; overview



Final essays due

(* = reading available through library’s online reserves page)


All secondary readings for this course are available online, either through the library's online reserves page, or in journals and books electronically available through the Graduate Center library. You should have copies of all the plays we’ll be reading, but you are welcome to use any edition, especially if you already own a copy -- although I do recommend getting Middleton's Complete Works (Oxford: OUP, 2010) now that it’s available in paperback, as it is a useful resource. If you'll be purchasing new books, you are encouraged to use the Amazon link on the Graduate Center’s library page – – because the library will receive a share of the proceeds. The plays are

          Thomas Middleton, Complete Works (Revenger’s Tragedy, Trick to Catch the Old One, Roaring Girl, Witch, Changeling)

          William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Timon of Athens

          Ben Jonson, Volpone, Epicoene, The Alchemist

          Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy


          One final term paper, 12-15 pages

          Three written response essays (two to be given as class presentations). Each written response should be 2 pages, and should explore a different one of the following options:

                      OED research: use the online OED (available in “Databases” on the library webpage) to research the etymology, contemporary meaning(s), and connotations of a significant word or words in the text under consideration. Discuss how these details affect the meaning of the line, passage, and play in which the word occurs.

                      Close reading: choose a brief passage (10-20 lines) and analyze how features such as images, verbal patterns, allusions, irony, and double (or multiple) meanings contribute to the passage’s meanings and its role in the text at large.

                      Choose an apparently minor character, scene, or episode, and explain its significance.

                      Respond to or critique one of the assigned critical essays, evaluating its approach and payoff.

                      Answer one question from a set of topics that I will provide for each text.

Selected Additional Recommended Readings

On revenge tragedy

 Fredson Bowers, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy 1587-1642 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940).

Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

Alison Findlay, "Revenge Drama," in A Feminist Perspective on Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 49-86.

Charles A. Hallett and Elaine S. Hallett, The Revenger’s Madness: A Study of Revenge Tragedy Motifs (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980)

Lorna Hutson, "Rethinking the 'Spectacle of the Scaffold': Juridical Epistemologies and English Revenge Tragedy," Representations 89, (2005), 30-58. (JSTOR)

Stevie Simkin, ed.. Revenge Tragedy (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001).

Robert Watson, "Tragedy," in The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama ed. A. R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), 292-343.

On city comedy

Brian Gibbons, Jacobean City Comedy (London and New York: Methuen, 1968).

Wendy Griswold, Renaissance Revivals: City Comedy and Revenge Tragedy in the London Theatre 1576-1980 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).

Jean Howard, Theater of a City (Philadelphia: U Penn Press, 2007)

L.C. Knights, Drama and Society in the Age of Jonson (London: Chatto & Windus, 1937)

Alexander Leggatt, Citizen Comedy in the Age of Shakespeare (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973)

Theodore Leinwand, The City Staged: Jacobean Comedy, 1603-13 (Madison: U Wisconsin Press, 1986).

Harry Levin, "Notes Towards a Definition of City Comedy" in Renaissance Genres: Essays on Theory, History and Interpretation, ed. Barbara K. Lewalski (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1986), 126-46.

Gail Kern Paster, The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985).

Susan Wells, "Jacobean City Comedy and the Ideology of the City," ELH 48:1 (1981), 37-60. (JSTOR)

On Middleton plays

P. K. Ayers, "Plot, Subplot, and the Uses of Dramatic Discord in A Mad World, My Masters and A Trick To Catch the Old One," MLQ 47:1 (1986), 3-1 (E-Duke)

Swapan Chakravorty, Society and politics in the plays of Thomas Middleton (Oxford: OUP, 1996).

Anthony B. Dawson, "Mistris Hic & Haec: Representations of Moll Frith," SEL 33:2 (1993), 385-404. (JSTOR)

Mario DiGangi, "Sexual Slander and Working Women in The Roaring Girl," Renaissance Drama 32 (2003): 147-176.

Jonathan Dollimore, "The Revenger's Tragedy: Providence, Parody and Black Camp," in Revenge Tragedy, ed. Stevie Simkin (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001)

Valerie Forman, "Marked Angels: Counterfeits, Commodities, and The Roaring Girl," Renaissance Quarterly 54:4 (2001), 1531-60. (JSTOR)

Kenneth Friedenreich, ed, “Accompaninge the players”: Essays celebrating Thomas Middleton, 1580-1980 (New York: AMS, 1983).

Heather Hirschfeld, "The Revenger's Tragedy: Original Sin and the allures of vengeance," in The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, eds. Emma Smith and Garrett Sullivan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 200-210.

Jean Howard, "Sex and Social Conflict: The Erotics of The Roaring Girl," in Erotic Politics, ed. Susan Zimmerman (New York: Routledge, 1992), 132-146.

Aaron Kitch, "The Character of Credit and the Problem of Belief in Middleton's City Comedies," SEL 47: 2 (2007), 403-26. (Muse)

Natasha Korda, "The Case of Moll Frith: Women's Work and the 'All-Male Stage'," Early Modern Culture (2004)

Eric Leonidas, "The School of the World: Trading on Wit in Middleton's Trick to Catch the Old One," EMLS 12:3 (2007)

Cristina Malcolmson, "'As Tame as the Ladies': Politics and Gender in The Changeling," English Literary Renaissance 20 (1990), 320-339.

David B. Mount, "The ‘(Un)Reclaymed Forme' of Middleton's A Trick to Catch the Old One," SEL 31:2 (1991), 259-72. (JSTOR)
Michael Neill "Bastardy, Counterfeiting, and Misogyny in The Revenger's Tragedy," SEL 36:2 (1996), 397-416. (JSTOR)

Christopher Ricks, "The Moral and Poetic Structure of The Changeling," Essays in Criticism, 10 (1960), 290-306.

Ann Pasternak Slater, "Hypallage, Barley-Break, and The Changeling," Review of English Studies 34 (1983), 429-440. (JSTOR)

On Shakespeare plays

Richard T. Brucher, "Fantasies of Violence: Hamlet and The Revenger's Tragedy," SEL 21.2 (1981), 257-70 (JSTOR)

Robert Darcy, "Shakespeare's Empty Plot: The Epicenotaph in Timon of Athens," Renaissance Drama 33 (2004),159-79.

Douglas E. Green, "Interpreting 'Her Martyr'd Signs': Gender and Tragedy in Titus Andronicus," SQ 40:3 (1989), 317-326 (JSTOR)

John Jowett, "The Pattern of Collaboration in Timon of Athens," in Words that Count, ed. Brian Boyd (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), 181-205.

John Kerrigan, "Hieronimo, Hamlet and Remembrance," Essays in Criticism 31.2 (1981),105-126.

Jessica Lugo, "Blood, Barbarism, and Belly Laughs: Shakespeare's Titus and Ovid's Philomela," English Studies 88:4 (2007), 401-17. (EBSCO)

Steven Mullaney, "Mourning and Misogyny: Hamlet, The Revenger's Tragedy, and the Final Progress of Elizabeth I, 1600-1607," Shakespeare Quarterly 45.2 (1994),139-62 (JSTOR)

Katherine A Rowe, "Dismembering and Forgetting in Titus Andronicus," Shakespeare Quarterly 45:3 (1994), 279-303. (JSTOR)

Ashley H. Thorndike, "The Relations of Hamlet to Contemporary Revenge Plays," PMLA 17:2 (1902),125-220. (JSTOR)

Lewis Walker, "Timon of Athens and the Morality Tradition," Shakespeare Studies 12 (1979),159-77 (EBSCO)

On Jonson plays

Richard Cave, Elizabeth Schafer, and Brian Woolland, eds, Ben Jonson and Theatre (London and New York: Routledge, 1999)

Ian Donaldson, "Jonson's Magic Houses," Essays and Studies 39 (1986), 39-61.

Ian Donaldson, "Volpone and the Ends of Comedy," Sydney Studies 18 (1992), 48-71 (E-journals)

Geraldo U Sousa, "Boundaries of Genre in Ben Jonson’s Volpone and The Alchemist," Essays in Theatre 4:2 (1986),134-146.

Richard Dutton, "Volpone and Beast Fable: Early Modern Analogic Reading," in Huntington Library Quarterly 67 (2004), 347-70. (JSTOR)

Jean E. Howard, "Crossdressing, the Theatre, and Gender Struggle in Early Modern England," Shakespeare Quarterly 39: 4 (1988), 418-40. (JSTOR)

James Mardock, Our Scene is London: Ben Jonson’s City and the Space of the Author (London: Routledge, 2008).

Karen Newman, "City Talk: Women and Commodification in Jonson's Epicoene," ELH 56:3 (1989), 503-18. (JSTOR)

Sean McEvoy, "Hieronimo’s Old Cloak: Theatricality and Representation in Ben Jonson’s Middle Comedies," Ben Jonson Journal 11 (2004), 67-87

Julie Sanders, ed., Ben Jonson in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), esp. Katharine Maus, "Genre," 39-47, and Michelle O’Callaghan, "Friends, collaborators, and rivals," 49-56.

Robert N. Watson, "The Alchemist and Jonson's Conversion of Comedy," in Renaissance Genres, ed. Barbara K. Lewalski (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1986), 332-367.

Mimi Yiu, "Sounding the Space between Men: Choric and Choral Cities in Ben Jonson’s Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman," PMLA 122:1 (2007 Jan), 72-88. (EBSCO)

On relationships between playwrights

John Cox and David Scott Kastan, eds, A New History of Early English Drama (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).

Jeffrey Knapp, Shakespeare Alone (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009)

Heather Hirschfeld, Joint Enterprises: Collaborative Drama and the Institutionalization of the English Renaissance Theater (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004)

Mark Hutchings and A.A. Bromham, Middleton and his Collaborators (Horndon: Northcote House, 2008).

Jeffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Stephen Orgel, Imagining Shakespeare (New York: Palgrave, 2003).

James Shapiro, Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).

Gary Taylor, "Forms of Opposition: Shakespeare and Middleton," English Literary Renaissance, 24 (1994), 283-314.

Gary Taylor and John Jowett, Shakespeare Reshaped 1606-1623 (Oxford: Clarendon Press,1993).