Collaboration and attribution in Two Middleton-Dekker city comedies

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The value of attribution studies to discussions on collaboration has been an issue of contention. Their worth has been downplayed by those subscribing to Foucauldian theories that the ‘author’ is a construct imposed upon texts by readers and critics rather than the originator of meaning. Attribution work on drama has also been criticised for treating collaboration as an authorship problem to be solved; an approach which has been dubbed ‘anachronistic’ when collaboration was such common practice in the production of early modern plays.

This paper discusses collaborative writing processes in two Middleton-Dekker city comedies, The Honest Whore, Part I (1604) and The Roaring Girl (1611). Through doing so it will reassert the value of attribution studies by making use of the work carried out by David Lake and MacDonald Jackson. Their (separate) attribution studies used internal textual evidence to discern who wrote what within the Middleton canon. I propose that the continuing relevance of their approach lies in its provision of evidence towards an understanding of how playwrights wrote together. This paper traces the patterns of the authorial ‘markers’ identified by Lake and Jackson throughout these two plays; comparing the distribution and discussing what this can tell us about the ways in which Middleton and Dekker wrote together. I argue that when attribution studies are considered afresh, in light of a multifaceted conception of authorship and the creation of meaning, they are of huge value to the study of collaboration in early modern drama.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
EventCollaboration, Authorship and the Renaissance - Queens University, Belfast
Duration: 12 Jan 201213 Jan 2012


ConferenceCollaboration, Authorship and the Renaissance


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