Unintroduction: Middletonian Dissensus

Gary Taylor and Trish Thomas Henley

in The Oxford Handbook of Thomas Middleton

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199559886
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Unintroduction: Middletonian Dissensus

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This article, which discusses the criticism of the works of Thomas Middleton, suggests that most Middleton criticism, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, has been based on pervasively shaky foundations. The first collection of Middleton's canon in a single volume comparable to the Jonson (1616), Shakespeare (1623), or Fletcher (1647) folios was not published until November 2007 – 380 years after Middleton's death. In a real sense, Middleton criticism started, or started over, in 2007. Literary criticism is necessarily systemic, because it articulates the relationships between different texts on the basis of explicit or implied principles. Without a reliable canon of Middleton's work, criticism could not map the relationships between his individual works, or the relationship between his work and the work of other writers. The 2007 Oxford edition of Middleton's Collected Works established a Middleton system, whose principles have not yet been articulated, and whose integration into the larger literary universe has only just begun. This newly visible system necessitates a rebirth of Middleton criticism, allowing us to look with new eyes upon an unfamiliar canonical landscape. This handbook is designed to complement the dominant scholarly resource in the field, the Oxford Middleton.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; literary criticism; Oxford Middleton; Collected Works

Article.  7593 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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