5.0374 Middleton Project Description (1/191)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 9 Oct 1991 21:15:02 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0374. Wednesday, 9 Oct 1991.

Date: Wed, 2 Oct 1991 15:36 EDT
From: John Lavagnino <LAV@BRANDEIS.BITNET>
Subject: Middleton project description (long)

The Complete Works of Thomas Middleton

General Editor, Gary Taylor (Brandeis)
Electronics Editor, John Lavagnino (Brandeis)
Associate General Editor, John Jowett (Waikato)

David Bergeron (Kansas), civic pageants
Julia Briggs (Hertford College, Oxford), The Second Maiden's Tragedy
Douglas Bruster (Chicago), The Changeling
Ralph Cohen (James Madison), Your Five Gallants
Anne Coiro (Rutgers), The Ant and the Nightingale; occasional poems
Lawrence Danson (Princeton), The Phoenix
Michael Dobson (Indiana), Wit at Several Weapons
Marjorie Garber (Harvard), The Changeling
Suzanne Gossett (Loyola Chicago), A Fair Quarrel
Donna Hamilton (Maryland), The Puritan
Roger Holdsworth (Manchester), Timon of Athens
Grace Ioppolo (UCLA), Hengist, King of Kent
MacD. P. Jackson (Auckland), The Revenger's Tragedy;
``Canon and Chronology''
John Jowett (Waikato), Women Beware Women; No Wit/Help like a Woman's;
More Dissemblers Besides Women
Coppelia Kahn (Brown), The Roaring Girl
Ivo Kamps (Mississippi), The Phoenix
Theodore Leinwand (Maryland), Michaelmas Term
Jerzy Limon (Gdansk), The Masque of Heroes; Sir Robert Sherley
Jeffrey Masten (Harvard), The Old Law
Ted McGee (Waterloo), The World Tossed at Tennis
Scott McMillin (Cornell), ``The Theatres of Middleton''
Paul Mulholland (Guelph), The Honest Whore Part 1; The Family of Love;
The Two Gates of Salvation; The Peacemaker
Marion O'Connor (Kent), The Witch
Tony Parr (King's College, London), Honourable Entertainments;
An Invention
Andrew Sabol (Brown), music
Peter Saccio (Dartmouth), A Mad World, My Masters
Paul S. Seaver (Stanford), ``Middleton's London''
G. B. Shand (Glendon College, York), The Black Book;
The Ghost of Lucrece; The Wisdom of Solomon Paraphrased
Debora Shuger (UCLA), The Wisdom of Solomon Paraphrased
Malcolm Smuts (Massachusetts at Boston), The Magnificent Entertainment
Gary Taylor (Brandeis), The Widow; A Game at Chess;
``Middleton's Life, Works, and Reputation''
Leslie Thomson (Toronto), Anything for a Quiet Life
Wendy Wall (Northwestern), Microcynicon
Valerie Wayne (Hawaii), A Trick to Catch the Old One
Stanley Wells (Shakespeare Institute), A Yorkshire Tragedy
Sue J. Wiseman (Kent), The Nice Valour
Linda Woodbridge (Alberta), A Chaste Maid in Cheapside
Paul Yachnin (British Columbia), Plato's Cap;
The Meeting of Gallants at an Ordinary

General Description of the Edition, by Gary Taylor

The Complete Works of Thomas Middleton will be published in 1994 by
Oxford University Press in a one-volume modernized annotated format
comparable to contemporary undergraduate editions of Shakespeare. This
will be the first edition of Middleton's complete works to be published
in more than a century, and the only edition of his works provided with
a scholarly and critical apparatus. The purpose of the edition is
canonical: to establish a new Middleton canon and to secure for
Middleton a more prominent position in the literary canon, to make
Middleton more widely available, more accessible, more read, more
taught, to insist upon his importance in English drama and the English

In format, the edition will have the same typeface, binding, and
(award-winning) design as the Oxford Shakespeare; however, it will be
less heavy, and more portable. The Complete Works will begin with a
general introduction to Middleton's life, works, and reputation (by Gary
Taylor), followed by two essays which establish the historical context
for Middleton's writing. Middleton, unlike Shakespeare, was a freelance
dramatist; accordingly, ``The Theatres of Thomas Middleton'' (by Scott
McMillin) will describe all the varied playing spaces of Jacobean
London. Middleton was born, lived, and died in London, wrote city
comedies and civic pageants, and was eventually appointed Chronologer of
London; accordingly, ``Middleton's London'' (by Paul S. Seaver) will
describe the urban context and subject of Middleton's work. All three
introductory essays will be illustrated by visual materials from the
period (as will several of the Introductions to individual works), as
part of the edition's general emphasis upon the optics of text.

Because Middleton's writings were not gathered in an authoritative
collection in the seventeenth century, any definition of his corpus must
be speculative, and based upon a varied combination of historical
testimony and internal evidence. The Oxford edition will include all
the works attributed to Middleton by responsible current scholarship,
arranged in the best chronological order the editors can establish.
Although the dating of some works will remain conjectural, even an
imperfect historical arrangement seems preferable to an imperfect
formalist division by genres. It makes possible a clearer appreciation
of Middleton's artistic development and of his engagement with the
continually changing present tense of his own social world. Moreover,
because Middleton's pamphlets, entertainments, and masques are less
familiar to modern readers than his plays, any formalist division would
run the risk of relegating those works to a critical ghetto. The Oxford
edition aims, instead, to give equal weight to the many kinds of
Middleton's writing, and to encourage perception of the
interrelationships between kinds.

Because a primary purpose of the edition is to make Middleton more
accessible, the text itself will be printed in modern spelling;
moreover, by carefully attending to matters of staging, editors will
make every effort to render the plays (which constitute the bulk of the
canon) intelligible as scripts for the theatre. Textually, the edition
aims to be responsible, accountable, and scholarly, but not definitive.
It will not pretend to solve all textual, bibliographical, and
hermeneutical problems; instead, it will summarize, synthesize, and
extend current research, providing a standard of reference and a solid
basis for future scholarship, criticism, and editing of Middleton. Each
text will be accompanied by a commentary (chiefly glossarial), at the
foot of the page, and by a concise historical and critical Introduction,
written by the editor of the work.

Oxford University Press will also publish, with the Complete Works, a
complementary Companion to Middleton, similar but not identical to the
Textual Companion to the Oxford Shakespeare. This will include, among
other things, the Textual Introduction and textual notes for each work
in the Complete Works, prepared by the relevant editor; it will be
prefaced by an extended essay (by MacD. P. Jackson) on the canon and
chronology of Middleton's works. As with the Oxford Shakespeare, this
companion volume will make it possible to provide a detailed and
comprehensive apparatus (for scholarly scrutiny and reference), while at
the same time freeing the Complete Works itself from material which most
readers would find distracting and superfluous, and which would
inevitably increase the price (and decrease the readership) of the main

Both the Complete Works and the Companion will be prepared and typeset
electronically; moreover, in addition to these printed volumes, the
project will also produce a separate electronic edition, prepared in
accordance with the guidelines of the international Text Encoding
Initiative, and a complete concordance to Middleton's works. The Oxford
Middleton will be the first edition of a major Renaissance author---and
perhaps the first edition of any English author---to exploit fully the
possibilities opened up by the ongoing electronic revolution in editing
and publishing. Although the Oxford edition of Shakespeare's Complete
Works was computerized, that project depended upon circumstances
unlikely to repeat themselves (the availability of machine-readable
texts of the early editions, and the financial and infrastructural
support of a special research department by an academic publisher);
moreover, the Oxford Shakespeare was from the outset envisaged as a
printed book. By contrast, the Oxford Middleton will operate in the
conditions which will be normal for most future editorial enterprises: a
cottage industry of dispersed scholars working on personal computers,
supported only by their home universities and occasional grants, whose
texts are eventually sent to a single university mainframe computer,
where they are archived, prepared for electronic typesetting, concorded,
and converted into various machine-readable forms. From the ground up,
the Oxford Middleton has been designed to be produced and distributed in
the new dual book/disc culture.

The edition will be prepared by an international team of thirty-nine
scholars. This distribution of labour, by drawing upon the resources of
so many individuals and institutions, reduces the burden on any single
scholar and increases the prospects for expeditious completion.
Moreover, the number and range of contributors is itself a testimony to
the contemporary critical assessment of Middleton's importance, and thus
reinforces the canonical claims of the edition. Accordingly, the
editors represent a wide range of critical specializations, from
feminism to philology, from historicism to histrionicism. They are
equally (and as deliberately) varied in their academic and generational
status, from already established scholars with international reputations
to new voices who promise to become leaders of the next generation of
the profession (and every stage in-between). Also remarkable is the mix
of gender: editing, particularly of Renaissance texts, has in the past
been an almost entirely male activity. Middleton's writing has
attracted so many women scholars in part because of the unusual number
and interest of his female protagonists.

The composition of this team reflects and promotes a revised conception
of the nature and function of editing. Some works---like A Game at
Chess, or Hengist, King of Kent---have complicated textual histories,
which demand of an editor certain highly-specialized kinds of technical
expertise and theoretical sophistication. But most works in the
Middleton canon survive in only a single, early, generally-reliable,
substantive text; in such cases the editorial task is much more easily
mastered by anyone with intelligence, accuracy, and a strong knowledge
of the period. The Middleton team has been constructed to break down
old barriers between editors and critics, and to demonstrate that
editing is an interdisciplinary art, which cannot be divorced from
issues of interpretation and theory, which demands and rewards critical
sensitivity, which can profitably learn from and contribute to every
kind of critical discourse.

Questions, comments, and suggestions may be sent by electronic mail
to John Lavagnino at middleton@binah.cc.brandeis.edu on the Internet
or middleton@brandeis on the Bitnet; or by post to John Lavagnino or
Gary Taylor at: Department of English, Brandeis University, Waltham,
Massachusetts 02254 USA.