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TOBACCO AND BOYS: How Queer Was Marlowe?

TOBACCO AND BOYS: How Queer Was Marlowe? Christopher Marlowe has been a significant figure in the refiguration of the English Renaissance, the working-class outsider/spy/sodomite who gives the lie to the Elizabethan world picture and to a whole complex of traditional assumptions about the aims of English Renaissance drama. My argument here, however, is that the transgressive Marlowe is largely a posthumous phenomenon. I begin with the portrait that hangs in the hall of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (fig. 1), though with no conviction that it is in fact a portrait of Marlowe. It was discovered, badly damaged, in a heap of builders’ rubbish during the renovations of the Old Court of Corpus in 1952; it was then thoroughly and conservatively restored. It is inscribed with the date 1585; the sitter’s age, twenty-one; and a motto, to which I will return. All that could be determined about its history was that it had been nailed to a wall in the Master’s Lodge; the lodge was built in the 1820s, and there is no way of knowing when after that the picture was installed, where it had hung before that, or when it came into the possession of the college. There is, in short, no record of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies Duke University Press

TOBACCO AND BOYS: How Queer Was Marlowe?

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1064-2684
eISSN
1527-9375
DOI
10.1215/10642684-6-4-555
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Christopher Marlowe has been a significant figure in the refiguration of the English Renaissance, the working-class outsider/spy/sodomite who gives the lie to the Elizabethan world picture and to a whole complex of traditional assumptions about the aims of English Renaissance drama. My argument here, however, is that the transgressive Marlowe is largely a posthumous phenomenon. I begin with the portrait that hangs in the hall of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (fig. 1), though with no conviction that it is in fact a portrait of Marlowe. It was discovered, badly damaged, in a heap of builders’ rubbish during the renovations of the Old Court of Corpus in 1952; it was then thoroughly and conservatively restored. It is inscribed with the date 1585; the sitter’s age, twenty-one; and a motto, to which I will return. All that could be determined about its history was that it had been nailed to a wall in the Master’s Lodge; the lodge was built in the 1820s, and there is no way of knowing when after that the picture was installed, where it had hung before that, or when it came into the possession of the college. There is, in short, no record of

Journal

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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