Welcome to the Early Modern Underground!

Wear your camouflage, bring your shovels, and meet me at midnight for some digging into the unlit catacombs of the early modern period — by which I mean, of course, what we also call the Renaissance (the time of Shakespeare, not of Henry James).

It’s not just the time of Shakespeare, though — it’s also the time of Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, Middleton, Ford, Marlowe, Sidney, Drayton, and hosts of virtually unknown playwrights and poets.

They’re the ones I’m interested in.

Do I hate Shakespeare? Nah. I love him. But I love the rest of them, and since I’m an underdog kind of gal, I love them more because they have so many fewer people paying any attention to them whatsoever.

Seriously. If you’re an academic, take a look in the journals for a year’s worth of publications on any of the above authors. You can find more articles on a single play of Shakespeare’s (okay, honestly, it depends on which play you look up, but this makes Shakespeare’s virtual hegemony even more marked) than on the entire corpus of John Fletcher, say, who was considered Shakespeare’s equal for over a century after their deaths.

Given this imbalance, I decided some time ago that broadening our understanding of what was being written in the early modern period would be a fun crusade. My decision came with a vision of me appearing at Shakespeare Association of America in a black domino, distributing Fletcher plays wrapped in brown paper to the masses. This, naturally, would start a grass-roots revival of non-Shakespearean plays and poetry.

The key here is making editions available of the different works; I can rave about how wonderful they are all I want, but the works will still not be taught or studied if teachers and students can’t find them in a bookstore. I’m working on that part separately; stay tuned.

Here is a place where we can explore early modern plays, poetry, and prose, and even (to give me an incentive) criticism, at least the good stuff.