“Breathe Less, and Farther Off”: The Hazardous Proximity of Other Bodies in Jonson’s The Alchemist

“Breathe Less, and Farther Off”: The Hazardous Proximity of Other Bodies in... <p>Abstract:</p><p>This essay contextualizes Ben Jonson’s <i>The Alchemist</i> in relation to the social controversy generated by London’s rich runaways in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Reading the surviving playtext as a record of a site-specific performance at London’s Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610, I argue that the notable presence of the Blackfriars’ stage-sitters is a crucial dimension of Jonson’s dramaturgy, one previously unconsidered in scholarship on the play. Occupying a contradictory play space that is informed by contemporary theories positing a material connection between playgoing and the threat of plague exposure, on the one hand, and the emergent public awareness of plague mortality as a class-based phenomenon, on the other, <i>The Alchemist</i> ironically stages the hazardous proximity of other bodies as a provocation to its socially privileged audiences, especially those seated onstage at the Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

“Breathe Less, and Farther Off”: The Hazardous Proximity of Other Bodies in Jonson’s The Alchemist

Studies in Philology, Volume 115 (3) – Jun 29, 2018

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>This essay contextualizes Ben Jonson’s <i>The Alchemist</i> in relation to the social controversy generated by London’s rich runaways in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Reading the surviving playtext as a record of a site-specific performance at London’s Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610, I argue that the notable presence of the Blackfriars’ stage-sitters is a crucial dimension of Jonson’s dramaturgy, one previously unconsidered in scholarship on the play. Occupying a contradictory play space that is informed by contemporary theories positing a material connection between playgoing and the threat of plague exposure, on the one hand, and the emergent public awareness of plague mortality as a class-based phenomenon, on the other, <i>The Alchemist</i> ironically stages the hazardous proximity of other bodies as a provocation to its socially privileged audiences, especially those seated onstage at the Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610.</p>

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 29, 2018

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