Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 29 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ineke Murakami

Committee Members

Lana Cable


Anti-materiality, Bartholomew Fair, Clothing, Disguise, Externals, Jonson, Clothing and dress in literature

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


The present Master's thesis seeks to develop a better understanding of Ben Jonson's complex ideas concerning society's theatricality through a close study of what has been called his greatest city comedy, Bartholomew Fair. Looking at Jonson's treatment of cloth, clothing, and disguise throughout the play, I will explore his concerns with the basic problem of surface versus depth and outward show versus inner essence. Taking a special interest in how Jonson's anti-materiality complicated his position as a playwright, I will engage another dichotomy haunting Jonson: sensorial spectacle versus the idealistic/metaphysical art of poetry. Using a cultural-materialist approach to read discrete moments of the play, I will discuss the historical context in which Jonson writes and explore the ways he engages with and responds to what he saw happening to surface-value in early modern England.