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Webster: The Duchess of Malfi

2. Setting

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About this Lecture

Lecture

This module takes a look at the setting of the play, which shows characteristics of both early modern Italy and post-Reformation England. We also discuss a modern adaptation of Webster’s play by the Utopia Theatre company which transposes the action into pre-colonial Yoruba land.

Course

In this course, Professor Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University) discusses John Webster’s play The Duchess of Malfi. We begin by thinking about Gothic motifs in the play, focusing in particular on instances of double-ness or twinning. In the second module we discuss the play’s setting, which shows characteristics of both early modern Italy and post-Reformation England, before moving on in the third module to exploring the role of religion in Webster’s play. After that, we think about the portrayal of women in the play-text and in a recent theatre production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The final module explores the play’s imagery, focussing in particular on Webster’s use of sententiae and motifs from the natural world.

Note: We use the Arden edition of the play. Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in either the text and/or line numbers.

Lecturer

Lisa Hopkins is Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University. Her principal research interests are in Renaissance drama, especially Marlowe, Shakespeare and Ford. She is also interested in the influence of Darwin on fiction, adaptation, and the work of Bram Stoker. At the moment, she is completing a book on From the Romans to the Normans on the English Renaissance Stage. She is a co-editor of Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association, and co-editor of the Arden Early Modern Drama Guides.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hopkins, L. (2019, January 07). Webster: The Duchess of Malfi - Setting [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/webster-the-duchess-of-malfi-e57bb9e5-77e2-4d6f-af63-4036b14788a1/setting

MLA style

Hopkins, Lisa. "Webster: The Duchess of Malfi – Setting." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Jan 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/webster-the-duchess-of-malfi-e57bb9e5-77e2-4d6f-af63-4036b14788a1/setting

Image Credits

"Map of Italy, c.1500" by Shadowxfox, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

• “Iyaloda, Oguntade and Osunkemi” by Anthony Robling © Utopia Theatre

• “Ensemble” by Anthony Robling © Utopia Theatre

"Wooden statue of Eshu-Elegba" by Wellcome Collection gallery, licensed under CC BY 4.0
This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post.

• “Esubiyi” by Anthony Robling © Utopia Theatre

"St Winifred" by Wolfgang Sauber, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

"St Winifred’s Well" by Richard Croft, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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