Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 83, Number 1  Spring 2020



"Longe Stories a Woord May Not Expresse": Tables of Contents in Lydgate's Fall of Princes
J. R. Mattison

John Lydgate's Fall of Princes is one of the longest poems in English, presenting readers—medieval, early modern, and modern—with an expansive sampling of lives of misbehaving monarchs to peruse. The daunting task of approaching this vast text perhaps motivated early readers to employ available technologies of reading to make the process manageable: tables of contents and other content-related lists. Examination of these tables reveals that Lydgate's various readers chose to break the Fall into discrete parts, each table-maker seemingly laying out a different path for reading. One sixteenth-century annotator of the Bodleian Library's MS Rawlinson C. 448 provided the most exhaustive table in manuscript form, not only cataloging his reading habits but also influencing future perusals. Ultimately, these tables represent ways of understanding the complex structure of the poem, departing from the organization imposed by the poem's form in manuscript to develop individual approaches to the literary work.

Civic Catholicism, Military Humanism, and the Decline of Justice in Thomas Lodge's The Wovnds of Ciuill War (1594)
D. Alan Orr

D. Alan Orr considers Thomas Lodge's The Wovnds of Ciuill War (1594) and its relationship to republican ideas during the "second" reign of Elizabeth I (ca. 1585–1603). Although Andrew Hadfield has argued that the play "contains many of the characteristics of republicanism," Lodge's marked skepticism toward Machiavellian-inspired military-humanist values suggests a more ambiguous relationship with early modern republicanism. Lodge was less the "republican," as Hadfield has asserted, than the Catholic, articulating a "civic Catholicism" in which the public observances and rituals of the "old religion" played an integral role in the maintenance of public morality, civil order, and justice.

"Men Are Lived Over Againe": The Transmigrations of Sir Thomas Browne
Jessica Lynn Wolfe

Jessica Lynn Wolfe considers the various and contradictory positions assumed by Sir Thomas Browne on the subject of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, explaining his confusion over the doctrine in terms of his medical, theological, and literary habits of thought. By placing Browne's various discussions of the transmigrations of souls in conversation with other seventeenth-century scientific and religious thinkers, including John Donne, Kenelm Digby, Robert Boyle, and Alexander Ross, her essay seeks to anchor the era's palpable interest in—and its genuine puzzlement over—metempsychosis, in terms of the scientific and medical advances of the late Renaissance as well as more transdisciplinary investigations into the nature of change and perdurance and of community and singularity.

Dialogue and the Church: Beating the Bounds of a Jacobean Via Media?
Joshua Mark Rodda

In this essay, Joshua Mark Rodda reconsiders the early seventeenth-century English Church by way of four dialogues, written by the young conformist Oliver Ormerod and the wayward preacher Henoch Clapham. Within four years, in the first decade of the reign of James I, Ormerod and Clapham each produced a dialogue disputing puritan separation, followed by a matching anti-Catholic work. In their use of form and character, these dialogues demonstrate how the contemporary conscience navigated an unstable settlement, how confessional identity was constructed through encounters with the religious "other," and how the language of moderation was used to characterize and understand the period.

Samuel Foote's The Mayor of Garret without the Election: What Promptbooks Can Tell Us about Provincial Theater
Jane Wessel

Samuel Foote's farce The Mayor of Garret (1763) satirizes politics and electoral practices by restaging a contemporary parodic event: the mock elections at Garrat. Using two previously unstudied promptbooks for performances in York and Boston, Jane Wessel argues that our understanding of the play is seriously skewed if we look only at the text and the original London performances. These promptbooks reveal that across England and America in the decades following its premiere, the farce was performed without its central satiric scene: the hustings leading up to the election of a mayor. Using the story of The Mayor of Garret without the election as a case study, she argues for the necessity of including provincial performance in the history of British theater and drama.

The Palimpsest Captive: Narratives of Islam, the Essex, and Her Boy in Early Republican Culture
James R. Fichter

This essay considers the American encounter with Islam in the Early Republic through the lenses of Americans' stories about the 1806 destruction of the Essex, a New England merchantman trading in the Red Sea, and the subsequent captivity and conversion of the ship's boy, John Poll, at the hands of the alleged "pirate" Sayyid Muhammad ʿAqil. James R. Fichter traces the shifting, sometimes contradictory features of these stories, demonstrating how changing trade and military relations between the United States and Barbary led to them being interpreted in different ways over time. This essay broadens the geography of scholarship of the early national encounter with Islam beyond North Africa to the Indian Ocean.


Viscounts in Virginia: A Proposal to Create American Noblemen (1619)
E. M. Rose

In 1619, the Virginia Company of London considered a proposal to create a hereditary peerage in the colony. E. M. Rose provides a transcription of the proposal, found among the company's business records. She places the proposal in the context of the desperate efforts of the company to raise funds for overseas settlement, the sale of other titles in the early Stuart period, and the attempts to establish a hereditary peerage in America.


Western Europe in the Ottoman World: Media, Mediation, and Intermediaries
Humberto Garcia

Alexander Bevilacqua
The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment

John-Paul A. Ghobrial
The Whispers of Cities: Information Flows in Istanbul, London, and Paris in the Age of William Trumbull

Daniel O'Quinn
Engaging the Ottoman Empire: Vexed Mediations, 1690–1815