Impact of Militarism and Social Mobility on the Construction of Masculinity in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama

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Examines the relationship between the military changes described in military manuals published in the latter half of the sixteenth-century and the portrayals of warfare and men who practice war in selected plays of Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson. The study argues that the sweeping technological and social changes that were part of the military revolution of the sixteenth century contribute to the negotiations of masculinity identified by many critics as a central concern of these plays, and that the effects of the military revolution of Elizabethan England were felt far beyond the confines of practice fields and military texts.


“Dr. Francisco discusses how in Sejanus the image of the bow and arrow, implements able to kill impersonally, at a distance, signify a change in warfare and in power relationships, and how the gun and bullet in Part Two of Tamburlaine point in the same direction. Leaping ahead to the twenty-first century, we might well ponder how various governments and fighting forces are arranged, what weapons are now available, and to what extent the interrelations that are studied so thoughtfully here might apply to our own situation.” – Dr. Mathew Winston, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Alabama

“Dr. Timothy Francisco’s study of social and dramatized masculinity in early modern England is an engaging and enlightening read. The prose is smart and clear, the research of both primary and secondary sources impressive, and the analysis convincing. The book’s central argument flows from a series of causal relationships: through its direct effect on the tactics of warfare, the evolution of martial technology irreversibly altered the status of a soldier, unsettling traditional notions of soldierly behavior and purpose.” – Dr. Wayne A. Chandler, Assistant Professor of English, Northwest Missouri State University

“Drawing from a range of pertinent social and historical research, Dr. Francisco demonstrates, in this book, the role the theater played in shaping and reflecting attitudes towards masculinity ... As Dr. Francisco convincingly demonstrates, changes in military tactics and technology spur changes in conceptions of masculinity, rendering traditional modes of merit fruitless. Men who ‘once proved their worth by martial merit’ trade their ‘swords and lances for shows and flatteries.’” – Dr. Jerald W. Spotswood, Marsh 3 Endowed Professor of Shakespeare Studies, West Texas A&M University

Table of Contents

Preface by Mathew Winston
Introduction: Militarism and Masculinity in Early Modern England
1 Gentleman and Soldiers in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine I
2 Fathers, Sons and Lovers in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine II
3 The Demise of a Masculine Ideal in Jonson’s Sejanus
4 The Transformation of a Warrior in Marlowe’s Edward II and Jonson’s Mortimer, His Fall

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