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Chaste ValueEconomic Crisis, Female Chastity and the Production of Social Difference on Shakespeare's Stage$
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Katherine Gillen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417716

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417716.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Chaste Selfhood: Ben Jonson’s Critique of Urban Chastity Tropes

Chaste Selfhood: Ben Jonson’s Critique of Urban Chastity Tropes

Chapter:
(p.127) Chapter 3 Chaste Selfhood: Ben Jonson’s Critique of Urban Chastity Tropes
Source:
Chaste Value
Author(s):

Katherine Gillen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417716.003.0004

This chapter considers the bourgeois subjectivity articulated in city comedy. It begins by addressing the tendency of city comedies such as Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, and the anonymous The Fair Maid of the Exchange to juxtapose chaste women with desiring, fragmented male characters so as to critique an ineffectual masculinity that flounders in the urban marketplace. The chapter then turns to Ben Jonson, whose treatment of chastity—and the intersection of gender, sexuality, and commerce more generally—has been underexplored. Jonson satirizes conventional deployments of chastity in Epicoene, rendering chaste integrity impossible in early capitalist environments and rejecting the queer implications of a model of male subjectivity that defines itself through theatrical chastity. Bartholomew Fair, by contrast, invokes chastity’s commodity status in order to present—and largely embrace—a queer, contingent form of early capitalist subjectivity. Furthermore, Jonson applies this model of commoditised subjectivity to the condition of the commercial playwright, indicating that his own agency as an author lies in the ability to negotiate the strictures of the commodity markets to which he is subjected.

Keywords:   Middleton, Dekker, Jonson, Epicoene, Bartholomew Fair, city comedy, subjectivity, commerce, chastity, queerness

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