Spatial Dramaturgy and Domestic Control in Early Modern Drama
Spatial Dramaturgy and Domestic Control in Early Modern Drama explores the social components of early modern domestic architecture and the spatial practices that helped to dramatize them. Each chapter examines a particular domestic feature—doors, windows, galleries, studies—and considers its role in a variety of early modern plays. Methodologically, I bridge the gaps between literary study, dramaturgy, and history by analyzing the palimpsest of the physical stage (e.g., the upper playing balcony) and the fictional spaces produced in performance (e.g., Juliet’s window). My work takes its influence from literary scholars, primarily Lena Cowen Orlin and Patricia Fumerton; theater historians, primarily Tim Fitzpatrick, Alan Dessen, Leslie Thompson, and Mariko Ichikawa; and architectural historians, primarily Mark Girouard and Alice T. Friedman. Bringing together these fields of study allows me to reconsider the theory of the unlocalized early modern stage that has largely dominated scholarly and theatrical approaches to early modern theater for half a century. In my first chapter, “Doors and Keys: Enclosure and Spatial Control,” I argue that doors and keys operate in productive tension with the spatial flexibility of the “unlocalized” stage, troubling the fantasy of domestic spatial control in plays such as A Woman Killed With Kindness and The Comedy of Errors. In my second chapter, “Windows: Locus, Platea, and Contested Authority,” I explore the way window scenes in plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Women Beware Women provide a liminal space between house and street where the tiring house façade and the apron of the stage could intersect. My third chapter, “Galleries: Feigned Soliloquy and Interiority,” shows how playwrights used gallery settings to stage feigned soliloquy, exposing the limits of private speech and the struggle to access another person’s most inner thoughts. My final chapter, “Studies: Hauntings and Impossible Privacy,” looks at plays that feature ghosts or devils in studies, such as Doctor Faustus and Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, to argues that these supernatural elements reflect the ease with which playwrights could violate presumably protected spaces. In turn, these hauntings explore the danger presented in early modern humanism: that the most haunted place of all is one’s own mind.