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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Robert Greene's The Honorable Historie of frier Bacon, and frier Bongay heralded the peculiar Elizabethan phenomenon of scholars on the commercial stage: like his fellow Cambridge graduate Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Friar Bacon presents a half-fanciful, half-historicized academe, transforming experience of Elizabethan Cambridge into a theatrical vision of high medieval Oxford. Like many Elizabethan history plays among which Greene's Honorable Historie purports to belong, although set during the reign of the Plantagenet Henry III (r. 1216–72), Friar Bacon frequently refers to contemporary institutional preoccupations, but unusually, rather than concentrating on institutions like the court, legal system, or church, Greene's concerns are for educational institutions. Greene mixes his sources idiosyncratically to construct his play, and these range from texts with an institutional purpose, like progress narratives and university statutes, to more concertedly entertaining literary forms, such as the vernacular chapbook. His diversity of sources knits into a richly textured representation of the worlds on which the various texts touch.

Keywords: Tudor theatre, plays, Cambridge, Oxford, scholars, Elizabethan history plays, education

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