gard0234: November 2012 Archives

Suzi Gard Entry 3

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1. In terms of this research project, what have you been thinking about this week?
This week I have been thinking about the way that artists' work (particularly that of dramatists') can be appropriated and adapted repeatedly throughout history by other artists or historians in order to serve their vision. It is in this way that we have the power to shape the way a figure or work of art is remembered. By imposing our ourselves and our ideas onto a figure or a work of art, we are adding layers onto the original creation that obscure the way that the viewer experiences and remembers the original work. (Referring to my side-bar study below): For example, because The Fall references Doctor Faustus in their music, known historical theological dissident, they are adding to their own rebellious status while simultaneously associating their audience's perception of Faustus and Marlowe with the punk attitude of The Fall.

2. If you have undertaken any research, what did you discover?
Out of curiosity, I decided take a look at how Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has influenced other works of art in our modern age. I was pleasantly surprised to find a song called "DKTR. Faustus" by The Fall, a prolific British post/punk band that has been generating work since the 1970s. The spirit of 1970s punk is notably anti-establishment and values self-liberation from confines of social norms. I found it exciting that the dramatic work of Marlowe, our rebel against the theo-social norms of Elizabethan England, inspired the work of punk music renegades over 300 years after Marlowe's death.

3. How might you relate this research to your work in other classes or rehearsal?
My discoveries this week have inspired me to look simultaneously at works of art from the past and present and the way that reference to figures and works of years of the past perpetuate the spirit of a greater philosophical movement. The acknowledgement of predecessors of a multi-generational idea also creates an elevated pedestal for an individual. It is extremely possible that artists and historians have over the years built up the image of Christopher Marlowe as a first-rate rebel of the Elizabethan Age to support their own ideas, movements, studies, and visions of dramatic adaptations. This exaggeration of character can contribute to developing ideas and arts, but it the investment in his character can also be a departure from the human being.

Suzi Gard Blog Entry 2

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1. In terms of this research project, what have you been thinking about this week?
This week, we have been primarily discussing Marlowe as a voice of resistance to the theo-socio-political norms of the Elizabethan Era. Many of the sources I ran into in my article search pin him as deviant dramatist who has made his mark in history and possibly met his end due to rubbing most other people the wrong way. (There is still uncertainty and lots of speculation on the precise motivation for his murder.) We've adopted the term "rebel" as a way to describe him due to his outright religious opposition to Protestant England and his audacity to pen a play that staged the taboo conjuring of spirits, devils, and the gates of hell before live audiences.

2. If you have undertaken any research, what did you discover?
In reading through Richard Dutton's Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe: Censorship and Construction, I have fortunately come across a great deal of valuable information on the censorship of theatre in Elizabethan times and the role of the Master of Revels in the staging of dramatists' work. This provides important details in the backdrop of Marlowe's story. If Marlowe really was such an irreverent rebel, how on earth did he ever get any of his plays produced to be seen by the Queen? He would have had to go through the Master of Revels to have his work approved. While most histories paint this role as one of an oppressive nature, Dutton reveals Edmund Tilney, the Master of Revels of Marlowe's time, as an ally, a partner without whom The Tragicall Historie of Doctor Faustus would never have been staged. So with this facilitation to the stage through Edmund Tilney, how rebellious was Marlowe's taboo and deviant play after all?

3. How might you relate this research to your work in other classes or rehearsal?
These discoveries I've made in studying the historical context of Christopher Marlowe has led me to consider more in-depth the power of state-mandated censorship and the role of such a character as the Master of Revels in the production of theatre during any given era. We acknowledge quite often the playwrights of controversial plays as progressive, rebellious, and undoubtedly clever, yet little conscious credit is given to the editors of these plays who, despite a rigid mandate from the monarchy of what is permissible and impermissible, allow works that unsettle social norms to reach the stage where it is finally witnessed by the public eye...and in Marlowe's case, the Queen herself. As Dutton points out, the relationship between theatre-makers and the censor is "symbiotic." Neither can survive in the business without the other. Seeing this perspective on theatre censorship has caused me to ponder on my own creative process and the rules of the institution in which I practice. What is really off bounds in theatre today? Why? Is anything we do in this department truly "rebellious" if we have no censorship and is our generation of theatre-makers losing the art of clever circumvention of rules due to a lack of limitation?

As a precaution, I am reposting this blog out in the open to be sure it is seen.
(Sorry if this didn't show up on your grading radar earlier...blogging and tagging confusions on my end!)

In his article on William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, Richard Dutton describes the controversial figure of Marlowe as a frank, outspoken playwright whose works often reflect his own worldview. Dutton writes, "the 'over-reaching' protagonists of the plays mirror the man of aggressively heterodox views who came under Privy Council scrutiny, while some ideas voiced in the plays are very close to opinions that Marlowe himself was supposed to hold and which were recorded as incriminating" (Dutton, 2) He continues to illustrate the image of Marlowe as a dualistic character: a "gentleman scholar" with seedy, "unfortunate associations with the popular theatre," whose own incompleteness can be found in the characters and themes of his written texts. Marlowe's contrasting image of a "great poet" and "'demon' of the Elizabethan culture" bolstered the social and religious debates on his work, Dr Faustus. While some seemingly understood his work as an orthodox Christian play with a strong, conclusive ending, others saw his play as an expression of humanist views with a provocative, indeterminate ending.

Dutton also addresses Marlowe's highly controversial murder in 1593. He frames his historical findings in Marlowe's close friendship or association with Sir Thomas Walsingham, the dedicatee of an English publisher. As it so happens, Ingram Frizer, the man who stabbed Marlowe to death was the Walsinghams' business agent. With this new tangle of relationships revealed, Dutton asks the reader to reconsider the nature of Marlowe's murder. Was this crime perhaps committed on the Walsinghams' behalf to quiet the controversial atheistic voice of Christopher Marlowe and simultaneously sever their association with a "godless man"?

Edmund Tilney is another character who appears in Dutton's framing of Marlowe's social context. Tilney was delegated the Master of Revels, or "the Queen's Censor," who was responsible for the censoring and organization of revels and plays for them to be suitable entertainment for the court. His position is designed to appease those in rule, and Tilney was granted the power to administer punishment for resisting rules of play as he saw fit.

Dutton writes, "[G.E.] Bentley gives definitive voice to an attitude to the government of the period that was widely prevalent for much of this century: that the regime was in principle ruthlessly authoritarian, if often in practice incompetent, and underpinned by graft and corruption.That being so, the drama of the day must have been anodynely non-controversial from the point of view of the authorities, except for the odd blunder or when 'dangerous matter' some how found a surreptitious path to the stage"" (Dutton, 13). Since these performances were intended to be viewed by the court, playwrights had the opportunity to express their community's discontents with rulers and their policies and possibly incite change through subtle thematic inception.

Dutton quotes Glynne Wickham: 'the relationship between Church, State and individual being [....] was the very subject matter which the whole machinery of censorship and control had been devised to police and suppress.' (Dutton, 13)

Dutton, Richard. "Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe: Censorship and Construction."

Yearbook of English Studies. Vol. 23. (1993): 1-29. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. HTML tags.

Doctor Faustus

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Full text PDF!!

Massacre at Paris

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Here's a link to the full text online:

MLA citation:

Briggs, Julia. "Oxford University Press." Oxford University Press. 34.135 (1983): 257-278. Web. 9 Nov. 2012. .

+Not well received by critics: "obviously a work of great haste,
and gotup forthepurpose ofgratifyingthevulgarfeelingatthatdate against popery: indeed, it has hardly anythingto recommend it."
" --John Payne Collier (1820)
"a brutal, chauvinistic propagandist', the play 'a prostitution of art" --Wilbur Sanders

+The play was one of the earliest to present recent historical and contemporary political events on the English stage

+the text we have is not that of the play written by Marlowe and first performed by Lord Strange's men, but a garbled and confused memory of that play which must, when complete, have been half as long again.

+As we have it, the text is worryingly fuzzy, its actions confusingly placed and poorly motivated. The Folger Library leaf hints that this was not originally the case.

+In his presentation of the massacre itself he appears to have reproduced with remarkable accuracy forms of ritualized violence peculiar to the French religious wars. (Marlowe's extensive knowledge of wounds??)

+The relation of state religion and the individual conscience was the burning question of the late sixteenth century throughout Europe.

...more to come shortly

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