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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In a recent book, Making Publics in Early Modern Europe, the author and his fourteen collaborators developed an account of how works of art and intellect, and the people who made and enjoyed them, changed the shape of early modern European society by creating what they called ‘publics’, which they defined as ‘new forms of association that allowed people to connect with others in ways not rooted in family, rank, or vocation, but rather founded in voluntary groupings built on the shared interests, tastes, commitments, and desires of individuals’. They described publics as ‘dynamic social entities that are constituted in part by the making public of particular kinds of made things along with their makers and partakers’. However, they observed that describing public making in this way made ‘it sound as if the public were an already-existing space into which things and people could be inducted, but in fact public making is a process by which social and material relations are reassembled so that a public space ... is created where one did not exist before’. This article asks, just what was this public space? How was it made? To begin to answer these questions, the article focuses on how Thomas Middleton's drama fashioned a public space where one did not exist before, on what the character of that space was, and on how Middleton's spatial innovations helped to create a new form of public association among a heterogeneous group of people. It suggests that by playing with space, Middleton's drama made a theatrical public with its own space of publicity.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton, public space, drama, publicity, public association

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