Research Project Title

Commodifying Tradition for Individual Gain: Religious Ritual and Social Change in "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside," "Eastward Ho," and "The Alchemist"

Session Type

Traditional Paper Presentation

Research Project Abstract

This paper considers the protocapitalist social climate in early modern London, examining three early 17th century city comedies -- Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613), Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston's Eastward Ho (1605), and Jonson's The Alchemist (1610) -- in order to demonstrate the ways in which London's nascent capitalist society led not only to a devaluation of religion, but also provided avenues for the commodification and fabrication of religious rituals for personal economic gain. By investigating the actions and motives of the "Promoters" and "Gossips" in Chaste Maid, Quicksilver in Eastward Ho, and Subtle, Face, and Doll in The Alchemist, this paper seeks to provide examples of the deliberate performance of religious traditions for economic advancement.

Session Number

RS1

Location

Weyerhaeuser 203

Abstract Number

RS1-b

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Commodifying Tradition for Individual Gain: Religious Ritual and Social Change in "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside," "Eastward Ho," and "The Alchemist"

Weyerhaeuser 203

This paper considers the protocapitalist social climate in early modern London, examining three early 17th century city comedies -- Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613), Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston's Eastward Ho (1605), and Jonson's The Alchemist (1610) -- in order to demonstrate the ways in which London's nascent capitalist society led not only to a devaluation of religion, but also provided avenues for the commodification and fabrication of religious rituals for personal economic gain. By investigating the actions and motives of the "Promoters" and "Gossips" in Chaste Maid, Quicksilver in Eastward Ho, and Subtle, Face, and Doll in The Alchemist, this paper seeks to provide examples of the deliberate performance of religious traditions for economic advancement.