student profile: Ms Gabriella Edelstein


Thesis work

Thesis title: Censorship, Collaboration, and the Construction of Authorship in Early Modern Theatre

Supervisors: Huw GRIFFITHS

Thesis abstract:

This thesis argues that censorship is central to early modern authorial self-construction and that the regulation of drama should be part of an understanding of dramatic collaboration. Over the last twenty years, literary scholarship has paid increasing attention to the collaborative processes involved in early modern theatrical production. Despite this interest, there has yet to be an account of how dramatic censorship operates as part of the collaborative model, or how censorship affected authorship. This thesis explores the relationship between authorship and political authority, so as to reconsider who is an author, and why. By engaging with textual and literary analysis, this thesis reveals how plays were shaped by a culture of collaborative censorship.

I have chosen four collaboratively written and censored plays so as to consider the relationship between writing and regulation. From this starting point, I examine the ways that authorship is constructed within plays and outside of them – in both early modern and our own contemporary culture. I begin with a survey of censorship and collaboration criticism in my Introduction, and offer a way of reading early modern drama through collaborative censorship. In Chapter One, I consider the role of credit in Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston’s Eastward Ho!, and how this system of social and financial exchange produced the playwrights’ collaborative and singular modes of authorship. In Chapter Two, I examine the role of scribes and censors as collaborative agents, if not authorial figures, in John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s The Tragedy of Sir John Van Olden Barnavelt. In Chapter Three, I suggest that service relations is central to dramatic collaboration, and what prompted the censorial revision of Fletcher, Massinger, and Nathan Field’s The Honest Man’s Fortune. Finally, in Chapter Four, I consider how models of authorship have constructed editorial representations of The Booke of Sir Thomas More, and argue that in an effort to present the playwrights’ collaboration, editors lose the work of the censor and scribe. Each chapter demonstrates how reading a collaborative play through censorship, or vice versa, can reveal the workings of dramatic production, relationship between playwrights, and the construction of the authorial self. By being attentive to the relationship between censorship and collaboration, I argue that the regulation of drama was fundamental to dramatic production and authorial identity.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.