Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England: Ten Case Studies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England

Ten Case Studies, 1st Edition

By Matthew Steggle


212 pages

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pub: 2015-11-28
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This book establishes new information about the likely content of ten lost plays from the period 1580-1642. These plays’ authors include Nashe, Heywood, and Dekker; and the plays themselves connect in direct ways to some of the most canonical dramas of English literature, including Hamlet, King Lear, The Changeling, and The Duchess of Malfi. The lost plays in question are: Terminus & Non Terminus (1586-8); Richard the Confessor (1593); Cutlack (1594); Bellendon (1594); Truth's Supplication to Candlelight (1600); Albere Galles (1602); Henry the Una (c. 1619); The Angel King (1624); The Duchess of Fernandina (c. 1630-42); and The Cardinal's Conspiracy (bef. 1639). From this list of bare titles, it is argued, can be reconstructed comedies, tragedies, and histories, whose leading characters included a saint, a robber, a Medici duchess, an impotent king, at least one pope, and an angel. In each case, newly-available digital research resources make it possible to interrogate the title and to identify the play's subject-matter, analogues, and likely genre. But these concrete examples raise wider theoretical problems: What is a lost play? What can, and cannot, be said about objects in this problematic category? Known lost plays from the early modern commercial theatre outnumber extant plays from that theatre: but how, in practice, can one investigate them? This book offers an innovative theoretical and practical frame for such work, putting digital humanities into action in the emerging field of lost play studies.


"Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England: Ten Case Studies is an exciting, innovative and smartly executed scholarly project. Each case study illuminates not only the lost play under discussion but also its contribution to the landscape of early modern drama including repertorial commerce, the interaction among dramatists, and Shakespeare's "place" in regard to the lost play." - Roslyn L. Knutson, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, USA

"Steggle’s brilliant and scrupulous scholarship shines through the volume… Devoid of any discernible flaws, Matthew Steggle’s Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England: Ten Case Studies represents another key contribution to the mapping of the lost plays of early modern England. Not only does the volume indisputably identify the likely content of the ten plays under examination, it also helps to elaborate a specific terminology and a mixed critical approach for dealing with any lost play, thereby paving the way for future critical work." - Domenico Lovascio, Universita degli Studi di Genova, Notes and Queries

"In short, Steggle’s monograph is a keenly-argued, rigorously-researched study, advocating and demonstrating how to use emergent technologies, and growing textual repositories of searchable plays, to answer age-old questions about particular lost plays. Although many of its examples are esoteric – a testament to Steggle’s exceptional knowledge of his subject matter – its methodologies, and underlining philosophical assumptions of the powers and relevancies of searching, are universal. Read what Steggle has to say, more than once." - Joshua J. McEvilla, SHARP News

"Matthew Steggle has produced a remarkably original and informative book on ten Renaissance plays whose scripts have not survived: Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England: Ten Case Studies. (…) It’s an excellent example of how the digital humanities can dovetail in productive ways with traditional scholarly formats like the academic monograph" - Kevin Curran, SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Volume 57, Number 2, Spring 2017

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Thomas Nashe and Robert Mills, Terminus & Non Terminus (1586-1588); Richard the Confessor (1593); Cutlack (1594); Bellendon (1594); Thomas Dekker, Truth's Supplication to Candlelight (1600); Thomas Heywood and Wentworth Smith, Albere Galles (1602); Henry the Una (c. 1619); The Angel King (1624); Henry Glapthorne, The Duchess of Fernandina (c. 1630-1642); The Cardinal's Conspiracy (bef. 1639); Conclusion; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Matthew Steggle is Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

About the Series

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
This series presents original research on theatre histories and performance histories; the time period covered is from about 1500 to the early 18th century. Studies in which women's activities are a central feature of discussion are especially of interest; this may include women as financial or technical support (patrons, musicians, dancers, seamstresses, wig-makers) or house support staff (e.g., gatherers), rather than performance per se. We also welcome critiques of early modern drama that take into account the production values of the plays and rely on period records of performance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General