Research Programs: Faculty Research Awards

Period of Performance

9/1/2010 - 8/31/2011

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Metropolitan Tragedy, 1567-1667

FAIN: HR-50526-10

Marissa Greenberg
Regents of the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001)

Although many scholars have examined London as the subject and setting of early modern English drama, no satisfactory account has been made of the extent to which urban upheaval shaped the theory and practice of tragedy. My project analyzes how writers from Shakespeare to Milton understood the capacity of tragic drama to make sense of real-life tragedy in England's capital city. In order to reconstruct the experience of early modern London, I survey maps, plans, and views, as well as descriptive accounts of London's topography, history, and municipal activities. Developing a transhistorical approach to literary form, I locate early modern tragic drama in its immediate urban context as well as examine its ancient roots and its modern-day relevance. This project has significant implications for current debates about the responsibility of tragic art to actual suffering, as our era, like early modern England, remakes tragedy in light of recent urban catastrophes.

Associated Products

Metropolitan Tragedy: Genre, Justice, and the City in Early Modern England (Book)
Title: Metropolitan Tragedy: Genre, Justice, and the City in Early Modern England
Author: Marissa Greenberg
Abstract: Breaking new ground in the study of tragedy, early modern theatre, and literary London, Metropolitan Tragedy demonstrates that early modern tragedy emerged from the juncture of radical changes in London’s urban fabric and the city’s judicial procedures. Marissa Greenberg argues that plays by Shakespeare, Milton, Massinger, and others rework classical conventions to represent the city as a locus of suffering and loss while they reflect on actual sources of injustice in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century London: structural upheaval, imperial ambition, and political tyranny. Drawing on a rich archive of printed and manuscript sources, including numerous images of England’s capital, Greenberg reveals the competing ideas about the metropolis that mediated responses to theatrical tragedy. The first study of early modern tragedy as an urban genre, Metropolitan Tragedy advances our understanding of the intersections between genre and history.
Year: 2015
Publisher: Toronto: University of Toronto Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes