The Niniversity at the Bankside: Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

Sarah Knight

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199566471
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 The Niniversity at the Bankside: Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

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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

Article.  8399 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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