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Title:English printed drama in collection before Jonson and Shakespeare
Author(s):Lyons, Tara L.
Director of Research:Neely, Carol T.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Neely, Carol T.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lesser, Zachary L.; Newcomb, Lori H.; Perry, Curtis
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Book History
Print Culture
nonce collection
collected edition
early modern drama
Abstract:Benjamin Jonson’s Works (1616) and William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (1623) overwhelmingly dominate studies of the English drama collection. This critical focus has revealed much of what we know about the collection as a format for dramatic texts in early modern England, but it has also concealed aspects of the format’s history. Scholars regularly assume that the Jonson and Shakespeare Folios were the first in England to gather dramatic texts in collections; others often treat the volumes as paradigms for how drama collections looked, functioned, and signified. By examining collections printed or compiled from approximately 1512 to 1623, this “English Printed Drama in Collection before Jonson and Shakespeare” offers a new conceptualization of the collection. This dissertation discovers that drama appeared in multiple collected formats other than large folio volumes and was organized around a diversity of principles of collection other than (and in addition to) “the author.” For example, drama was presented in ten-play quarto editions supporting humanist pedagogical agendas, reader-compiled octavo miscellanies created for political persuasion, and serially published sets celebrating the English church and crown. This diversity of collected forms was constructed through different material processes to support the financial and/or ideological aims of various agents, including printers, publishers, booksellers, and readers. Ultimately, I show that when viewed within these genealogies of the collection, the Jonson and Shakespeare Folios signal an incomplete break with earlier collections, and in fact, are constituted by these understudied forms from the past. Each chapter of this dissertation provides a genealogy of an early printed drama collection by charting the processes and agents who brought the volume into being as well as its political and cultural stakes. As Foucault suggests, to perform a genealogical analysis is not “to trace the gradual curve of [a concept’s] evolution, but to isolate the different scenes where [it] engaged in different roles.” By focusing on process, I highlight the different “scenes” of collection and closely attend to the agents who created various kinds of collected entities—not just monumental collected editions. My studies uncover dramatic texts that at one time were bound together or sold together, sets of drama marketed as multi-part sets, or collections that existed only in the mind’s eye. I argue that these material and immaterial manifestations underlie early modern approaches to the collection as both a product and a process—both a material object producing meaning through the physical arrangement of texts and a fluid form that was constantly reformulated to suit the needs of its creators. Chapter 1, “Genealogies of English Printed Drama in Collection, 1512 to 1623,” outlines my methodology while addressing some of the fifty collected editions containing vernacular drama published before 1623. I theorize how Foucauldian approaches to genealogy and Derridean models of the archive can offer new perspectives on the book collection as a physical and imagined space where texts accumulate, record their producers’ fantasies of the collected form, and influence further collection processes. In Chapter 2, “Archiving Processes and Agents in the Collected Edition: Humanist Pedagogy in Thomas Newton’s Seneca His Tenne Tragedies (1581),” I trace the gradual emergence of the first English vernacular collected edition of Seneca’s ten tragedies. The volume was first conceived by the translator Jasper Heywood in 1560 when he dreamed that the ghost of Seneca descended from Helicon and implored him to create an English edition of the plays. While Heywood did not complete the collection, other translators and publishers made progress as seven single editions of the tragedies appeared from 1559 to 1566. In 1581, these seven previously printed and multiply translated editions were joined with three new translations to create Seneca His Tenne Tragedies (1581), a ten-play quarto volume published by Thomas Marsh and edited by Thomas Newton. By physically unifying these plays and integrating principles of collection from previously published editions into their design, Marsh and Newton created not only a compilation of dramatic texts but also a rich repository of translators’, publishers’, and readers’ conceptions of Seneca in collection throughout the 1550s and 1560s. Newton adopted and re-invented these conceptions to foreground in the volume his own humanist project of making classical works available to English readers for their moral edification. Chapter 3, “Treating Divisions in the Nonce Collection: Political Persuasion in Thomas Norton’s All Such Treatises (1570),” addresses a small “nonce collection,” a common form of collection in which a publisher simply stitched together a newly printed title-page with a number of previously printed editions. The publisher, John Day, joined five of Norton’s previously printed political pamphlets with the first English five-act play, The Tragedy of Gorboduc, to persuade English readers to unite against their Catholic foes after the 1569 Northern Rebellion. Gorboduc, which was newly titled Ferrex and Porrex in the collection, was positioned as a “treatise” to conclude and reinforce the volume’s message: that a divided England will easily fall prey to a nearby enemy, Mary Queen of Scots. After the volume was published, readers reorganized and re-collected the treatises to serve new purposes. For instance, the Huntington Library’s copy of All Such Treatises was bound together with six more political pamphlets addressing Mary Stuart’s plots against England. This compilation and others like it in the Bodleian and York Minster Library demonstrate how Norton’s collections became time-specific archives of Tudor/Stuart conflicts in the last half of the sixteenth century. In Chapter 4, “Marketing the Serial Collection: Remembered Performance in the Paul’s Boys’ Quartos (1591-1592),” I turn to another form of collection that has not been theorized as such: the serial collection. The female publisher Joan Broome brought out several editions of John Lyly’s comedies in 1591-92, marketing them as a unit and encouraging book-buyers to see them as a single textual entity. I argue that this unusual choice—in the early 1590s, little professional drama had been published at all—was triggered by the Martin Marprelate pamphlet war, in which Lyly’s theater troupe, the Children of Paul’s, was invovled. The pseudonymous Marprelate and his pamphlets lambasting English bishops and ecclesiastical authorities became a sensation in London after 1589, popularizing the serial production of polemical cheap print but simultaneously instigating a censorious backlash from the English crown, including the dissolution of the Children of Paul’s. Through her serial publication of Paul’s Boys’ plays, Broome disassociated the drama from religious heterodoxy. She positioned Endymion as the first in a set of five pro-monarchial and pro-ecclesiastical comedies, including Galatea, Midas, Campaspe, and Sapho and Phao. In this serial collection, the five playbooks celebrated the Children of Paul’s devotion to their queen and her church. In the final chapter, “Negotiating Alternative Principles of Authorial Collections: The “Whole” Monument in Parts in Jonson’s Works (1616) and Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (1623),” I return to the Jonson and Shakespeare Folios that have been the focus of so much scholarly attention, but with the new context provided by my genealogy of the English dramatic collection. Re-reading these folios reveals that “authorship” was just one principle of collection amid a contest of both competing and mutually supporting organizational frameworks. Genealogies of the 1616 and 1623 Folios reveal that agents negotiated past conceptions of each author’s collected works with aims to fashion whole authorial monuments that were also open to additions and new reformulations. By examining the genealogies of these mythologized volumes, my project offers a new understanding of the creation of Jonson and Shakespeare as foundational authors of the English literary canon.
Issue Date:2011-08-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Tara L. Lyons
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-27
Date Deposited:2011-08

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