Producing Early Modern London


Producing Early Modern London

A Comedy of Urban Space, 1598–1616

Kelly J. Stage

Early Modern Cultural Studies Series

354 pages
6 illustrations, index


January 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

January 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

January 2018


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Early seventeenth-century London playwrights used actual locations in their comedies while simultaneously exploring London as an imagined, ephemeral, urban space. Producing Early Modern London examines this tension between representing place and producing urban space. In analyzing the theater’s use of city spaces and places, Kelly J. Stage shows how the satirical comedies of the early seventeenth century came to embody the city as the city embodied the plays.

Stage focuses on city plays by George Chapman, Thomas Dekker, William Haughton, Ben Jonson, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster. While the conventional labels of “city comedy” or “citizen comedy” have often been applied to these plays, she argues that London comedies defy these genre categorizations because the ruptures, expansions, conflicts, and imperfections of the expanding city became a part of their form. Rather than defining the “city comedy,” comedy in this period proved to be the genre of London.

As the expansion of London’s social space exceeded the strict confines of the “square mile,” the city burgeoned into a new metropolis. The satiric comedies of this period became, in effect, playgrounds for urban experimentation. Early seventeenth-century playwrights seized the opportunity to explore the myriad ways in which London worked, taking the expected—a romance plot, a typical father-son conflict, a cross-dressing intrigue—and turning it into a multifaceted, complex story of interaction and proximity.

Author Bio

Kelly J. Stage is an assistant professor in the department of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


"Many of these case studies will be important reading for future scholars looking to continue the work of mapping the territory of the city comedy."—Matteo Pangallo, Early Theatre

"In the elegance of its critical formulations carefully applied to the close reading of key works in the city-comedy canon, this is an astute and important book that makes a significant contribution to understanding the placemaking of early modern London drama."—Andrew Gordon, Renaissance Quarterly

“Kelly Stage’s excellent and focused close reading of plays is characteristically insightful, compelling, and provocative while simultaneously illustrating her key thesis about the existential ‘dual gaze’ required by this specific genre of comedy.”—Steven Mullaney, professor of English at the University of Michigan and author of The Reformation of Emotions in the Age of Shakespeare

Table of Contents

List of Figures
1. “Wat be dis plashe?” Estranged Spaces and Theatrical Places
2. Runaways, Madmen, and Shipwrecks: Westward, Northward, and Eastward Ho
3. Pervasive Space and Urban Tactics: Performing Resistance
4. Strange Hidden Ways: Escaping the City