Article Abstracts


Is “Hand D” of Sir Thomas More Shakespeare’s? Thomas Bayes and the Elliott–Valenza Authorship Tests.
MacDonald P. Jackson, University of Auckland.

Shakespeare's authorship of the three-page scene penned by "Hand D" to the revised and augmented version of Sir Thomas More has been accepted by recent editors, but several scholars remain sceptical of the attribution. Ward E. Y. Elliott and Robert J. Valenza have subjected the scene to their battery of computerized tests and conclude that the statistical probabilities are strongly against Shakespeare's having written it. But their conclusions take no account of the strength of the positive case already established. A Bayesian statistical approach repairs this deficiency and yields probabilities in favour of the traditional view. Evidence pointing to Shakespeare's responsibility for the scene is summarized, supplemented, and evaluated. Giles E. Dawson's argument from handwriting is shown to be compelling. Dover Wilson's data on orthographical links between Hand D's pages and Shakespeare quartos is assessed with the aid of Literature Online searches. Possible reasons for Elliott and Valenza's negative results are explored, and reservations are expressed about some of their tests.

The School of the World: Trading on Wit in Middleton’s Trick to Catch the Old One.
Eric Leonidas, Central Conneticut State University.

In reading the city comedies of Thomas Middleton, critics frequently point to the bevy of unscrupulous traders, greedy merchants, and petty swindlers as evidence of the playwright's doubts about market-based commerce. At the same time, critics contrast the Middleton's social "tolerance" with the more severe satire of Ben Jonson. But to see Middleton as simultaneously critical and accepting of the same market forces overlooks the experiments the plays stage in new forms of knowledge and adaptive social attitudes. That is, given the inevitability of London markets, Middleton seeks an epistemologically practical route through which to negotiate the social change that markets promote. In Michaelmas Term and a second "cozening" city comedy, A Trick to Catch the Old One, then, Middleton is less concerned with lamenting commercialization, commodification, and overly free exchange than delineating the specific skills and habits of mind that can provide financial prosperity and social stability. No matter one's status, Middleton shows, economic passivity and social complacency are debilitating attitudes; the only recourse is to begin developing the practices and intellectual mindset of mercantilism. In the plays, this mindset takes the form of wit. But wit is less a traditional character trait--an inherent gift with the potential to perceive and restore natural order--so much as an improvisatory skill, a cultivated experiential knowledge that enables accommodating young men to gain financial leverage on the world around them.

Observations upon the Irish Devils: Echoes of Eire in Paradise Lost.
Maura Grace Harrington, Seton Hall University

It is clear that in Paradise Lost, Milton described the devils' behavior in ways that rebels' behavior would normally be described in his day. The particular type of rhetoric that Milton chose for the devils, closely echoing his own rhetoric about the Irish in the Observations upon the Articles of Peace, aligns the Irish of his day with the devils of an earlier eon. Milton probably did not intend the devils to be read only as Seventeenth-Century Irishmen; however, since Milton wrote Paradise Lost to "justifie the ways of God to men" (I.26) and particularly to the English men of his day, Milton's use of "Irish" characteristics for the devils is useful for his purposes and revealing to us. If the Irish have devilish characteristics, and the devils have Irish characteristics, and both groups, as Milton admits in a slippery way, have at least temporal power, he and his contemporary countrymen are threatened by both groups. Because of the power they wield in their capabilities for imitation and deceit, the Irish and the devils both threaten to turn Milton's cosmos inside out. The power that both the Irish and the devils have to confound Milton and his cohorts makes it seem just as likely that Milton's demonizing of the Irish and "Irishizing" of the demons, while attempting to belittle both groups, actually gives them the dubious distinction of wielding a power that Milton cannot quite understand.

Hero’s Afterlife: ‘Hero and Leander’ and ‘lewd unmannerly verse’ in the late Seventeenth Century.
Roy Booth, Royal Holloway.

Hero and Leander ceased to be reprinted after 1637, but parodies of aspects of Marlowe’s narrative evidence the poem’s continued presence in late seventeenth century poetry. These parodies also involve recollections of Venus and Adonis, as the poets burlesquing Ovid reveal their close knowledge of English Ovidian writings. The article suggests that a coincidence of geography, first exploited by Ben Jonson, gave parodies of the Hero and Leander narrative their lasting appeal. William Wycherley’s Hero and Leander in Burlesque (1669) is read as a perceptive response both to Marlowe’s, and to Shakespeare’s poem. The effort by Sir Robert Stapylton to assert that the Hero and Leander narrative ought to be given serious handling is also considered. The article suggests the continued importance of both these late Elizabethan poems to a range of later seventeenth century writers.

Verse, Voice, and Body: The retirement mode and women's poetry 1680-1723.
Bronwen Price, Portsmouth University.

The retirement mode was key to the emergence of a feminine poetics during the late seventeenth century and was employed by women writers of varying political persuasions and social backgrounds. While on the surface the retreat genre might appear restricting through its associations with privacy, withdrawal and exile, these very features paradoxically enabled a fundamental reshaping of feminine subjectivity together with a reformulation of women's conventional identification with the body.
The central trope of retirement - an enclosed, meditative space that operates separately from social parameters - was remoulded by women poets to create a sphere for different modes of thought, identification and being that allowed the possibility for orthodoxies to be questioned and challenged.
In particular, the site of retreat becomes identified with a specifically feminine poetic utterance, one which reconfigures feminine identity by redefining the relationship between verse, voice and body. While retirement is associated with bodily containment or renunciation and the exclusion of corrupt worldly matter, the creative, internal life it engenders, on occasion, elicits sensual pleasure so that the body re-emerges to be recast and transformed. Moreover, though frequently marked as a self-enclosed, self-sustaining space, retirement embraces social exchange and often provides the starting point for public address.



© 2007-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).