Reading the Natural and the Preternatural Worlds in Early Modern Drama Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
  • Walker, Katherine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Analyzing almanacs, how-to manuals, and receipt books and drama, “Reading the Natural and Preternatural Worlds in Early Modern Drama,” argues that the stage is in dialogue with vernacular natural philosophical print. The project shows how this archive, taken up by early modern playwrights, complicates our understanding of the methods of deduction in the period and those who might contribute their experiential knowledge of natural and preternatural phenomena to the period’s sciences. In chapters on Mother Bombie and The Wise Woman of Hogsdon, All’s Well That Ends Well, Doctor Faustus, Bartholomew Fair, and Macbeth, the dissertation reads drama equally invested as vernacular print in producing knowledge. The stage offered a means for playing with the modes of interpretation articulated in manual literature, and drama offered an approach that accounted for the intervention of magical agents in the creation of knowledge. The dissertation demonstrates that the frame of science studies can direct our inquiries more accurately towards the many stakeholders in the creation of knowledge on the early modern stage. In focusing on marginalized knowledge, this project explores how the early modern stage was an active venue for participating in the intellectual landscape of the period. Broadening the archive to these under-studied texts, the contributors in the production of knowledge also dilates to include unlikely figures. The project thus captures the uncanny “cunning” of figures such as white witches, female healers, criminals, and clowns.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Floyd-Wilson, Mary
  • Sullivan, Garrett
  • Matchinske, Megan
  • Baker, David
  • Barbour, Reid
  • Wolfe, Jessica
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

This work has no parents.