"Make several kingdoms of this monarchy": place and identity in early modern drama

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University of Alabama Libraries

In the phenomenological theory of space and place, best articulated by Yi-Fu Tuan, Edward Casey, J.E. Malpas, and Michel de Certeau, an individual’s experiences inscribe a space (or an undifferentiated area) and make it a place; that place and those experiences contribute to an individual’s identity. In applying this theory to early modern English drama, I contend that we can better understand how Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights responded to the displacement of the English population, as many provincial English moved to London and acquired new physical and social places. Elizabethan playwrights Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe suggest physical place is essential to a character’s identity. For later playwrights like William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, however, physical place is significant but not as central. Instead, as phenomenological theorists posit, place and experiences both contribute to identity.

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Literature, English literature, Theater