Marlowe's Empery: Expanding His Critical Contexts

Marlowe's Empery: Expanding His Critical Contexts

Marlowe's Empery: Expanding His Critical Contexts

Marlowe's Empery: Expanding His Critical Contexts

Synopsis

"This collection seeks to expand the critical perspectives of Marlowe scholarship by bringing together essays that examine diverse aspects of Marlowe's artistry, while simultaneously embedding his poems and plays within their theatrical, cultural, and social milieux. The essays in the first section of the collection adopt theater history and performance theory to position Marlowe's plays within the theatrical context of both his day and our own. Although numerous admirable studies have probed every facet of performance in Shakespeare's plays, the theatricality of Marlowe's plays, as well as their influence on the development of the English drama, has been largely ignored. The second section of this collection shifts from the theatrical to the cultural sphere of Marlowe's poems and plays. Few scholars would deny that Marlowe was a creator and subverter of genre par excellence, but, particularly in the past decade, very little scholarship has addressed this aspect of his genius. The essays in the third section of this collection place Marlowe's plays within their social and historical context. However, although employing a critical methodology that has become increasingly popular during the past decade, the essays in this section also seek to discover new relationships between Marlowe's plays and their social environment." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In ACT 1, SCENE 2 of TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT, PART 1, the eponymous hero envisions his vast empire-to-be, measuring in his mind’s eye the limits of “his empery / By east and west as Phoebus doth his course” (39–40). Much later, in the final scene of Part 2, the dying Scythian warrior measures his dominion again, for the last time. Calling for a map, he gloats over his conquests even as he expresses keen regret and amazement at the worlds yet to be subdued. With his expiring breath he exhorts his sons to continue his conquests and expand his empire. The ability of his sons, woefully unprepared to accomplish such a monumental task, remains problematic, but these two scenes provide vivid emblems for the challenges that the Marlowe Society of America, since its inception, has undertaken: the responsibility not only of measuring the extent of Marlowe’s achievements, but also of expanding the critical contexts of his plays.

The Marlowe Society of America was organized in 1974, and, during the first twenty-seven years of its existence, scholarship on Christopher Marlowe has burgeoned. In addition to the two collections of critical essays on Marlowe published under its aegis, the Society annually hosts two sessions at the Modern Language Association Convention, and in 1998 sponsored its fourth international conference in Cambridge, England at Marlowe’s own alma mater, Corpus Christi College. Two or three scholarly books on Marlowe appear in print every year, in addition to a constant flow of critical essays. Moreover, the life of this apparently dashing yet mysterious figure has also inspired several biographical studies, historical novels, original dramas and, most recently, films. After centuries of neglect—on the stage as well as on the page—the late twentieth . . .

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