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Title: Thomas Dekker and Chaucerian re-imaginings
Author: Li, Chi-fang Sophia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 7458
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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This study aims to offer a new literary biography of Thomas Dekker (c. 1572-1632) and demonstrates the ways in which he refashions his principal source, Geoffrey Chaucer. The first chapter considers Dekker in both literary and theatre histories, situating him amongst his collaborators: Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Michael Drayton, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster. This chapter also aims to re-evaluate Dekker’s achievement in history, starting from Dekker’s presence in Henslowe’s Diary, his ‘part’ in the War of the Theatres, his theatre writing, followed by his observations of London written during the plague years, his imprisonment, and his posthumous historical reception. The second chapter investigates how Dekker uses Chaucer, whose ‘book’, I argue, is a common theatrical source book that offers the playwrights quick access to stories and plots. To provide evidence of Dekker’s readership of Chaucer, I trace the early modern editions of Chaucer available in Dekker’s time and survey Dekker’s reading of Chaucer from his early career to his late years. The final three chapters concentrate on Dekker’s uniquely creative refashioning of Chaucer in theatrical terms. Chapter Three examines how Dekker turns Chaucer’s serious Clerk’s Tale, a ‘text of loss’, into a comic parody, re-titled as The Pleasant Comedy of Patient Grissil. Chapter Four investigates Chaucer’s legacy of the festive and the carnival, whose ideas of ‘game’ and ‘play’ in The Canterbury Tales directly influence Dekker’s Westward Ho and Northward Ho, wherein I call the Ho plays Dekker’s ‘game’ plays. Chapter Five demonstrates the ways in which Dekker transforms the tropes of Chaucer’s Loathly Lady in The Wife of Bath’s Tale into performative metaphors in The Roaring Girl, a fantasy satire. This is the first attempt to discuss and study, in full, Dekker’s texts alongside their source. Through Dekker’s Chaucerian re-imaginings, we see the playwright’s three-dimensional transformation of his source and the ways he visualises his performances.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick (UoW) ; National Science Council (Taiwan)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature