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Material Texts: Marissa Nicosia (English, Penn State-Abington): "'Chronicled at home': Perkin Warbeck and the Popularity of English History Plays"
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library

Please join us Monday, September 25th, for this semester's next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene at our usual time and place: 5:15pm in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming Marissa Nicosia for a talk entitled: “‘Chronicled at home’: Perkin Warbeck and the Popularity of English History Plays.” Marissa writes:

This talk is derived from my current book project, “A History, Couch’d in a Play”: Historical Futures in Seventeenth-Century Drama in which I make two interconnected arguments: periodization has led literary scholars to overlook the popularity of the English history play in the seventeenth century and the history play genre offered playwrights throughout the period a fruitful forum for imagining national pasts, presents, and futures. My presentation will first discuss the popularity of history plays in print by providing an overview of publication statistics and specific examples of annotated plays from recent research at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the British Library. Although John Ford’s Perkin Warbeck (1634) is often held up as the “last” history play and caricatured as the genre’s swan song, I argue instead that the play was published when history plays were quite popular in print and that Ford celebrates the affordances of the genre. While Perkin aspires to be planted in his “own inheritance” and ascend to the throne, Ford’s play first entertains and then dismisses the aspirations of this pretender (II.i.87). I show that Ford’s pretender plot is equally about the past and the future. The play represents both history as it unfolded and the possible counterfactual projected by Perkin’s desired succession. Ford’s brief, dramatized chronicle brings pasts, presents, and futures to life on the stage and on the page.

Marissa Nicosia is Assistant Professor of Renaissance Literature at Pennsylvania State University – Abington College. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 and previously taught at Scripps College as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Marissa is completing a monograph on imagined futures in the seventeenth-century English history play and has articles on early modern literature published or forthcoming in Modern PhilologyMilton StudiesThe Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, and Studies in Philology. She is a coeditor, with Emma Depledge and John Garrison, of the collection Making Milton: Writing, Publication, Reception which is under contract with Oxford University Press. Marissa founded the public food history website Cooking in the Archives with Alyssa Connell in 2014. Her research has been supported by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School.