Bartholomew Fair

This is a two-page paper; that means at least two full pages of writing. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, in 12 point font, with standard margins (like this page), stapledPlease print out your paper, and do so single-sided so there is space for me to leave comments (i.e. on the back). Two pages is a minimum; you may write more if you wish. No ‘Works Cited’ page is needed, and outside research (except for observation, in the case of #1) is actively discouraged. This paper is worth 20% of your overall course grade.

There are two options for this paper. Choose one of the following:

1) Throughout our discussion of Bartholomew Fair, we have suggested analogies between the early modern fair Jonson depicts and our own contemporary ones. The Utah State Fair runs from September 5th—15th. Attend it, and compare its market activities with those in Jonson’s play. What commodities and entertainments does each offer, and how do they interact to organize and define the fairgoer’s experience? (Is there a typical fairgoer experience?) How does each make its money, and what marketing ploys, commercial tactics, or outright scams does each use to make more of it? If Jonson’s fair produces a kind of community by the end, on what is it based, and does its counterpart develop something similar? What do people buy, and is it the same as what they getThe best papers will not (and cannot) address all these questions, but will select among them to weave together an organic argument, with a clear thesis; they will narrow their focus as much as possible, analyzing specific practices and effects in both the real-life fair and Jonson’s dramatic one; they will devote roughly half their space to Bartholomew Fair, and quote from it (with proper textual citation*) at least three times to illustrate their insights.

2) In our consideration of Bartholomew Fair as a critique of early market capitalism, we have noted the theme of individual agency as both a fiction that consumer culture must maintain and as a faculty it is simultaneously invested in disabling. From this perspective, analyze the fates of at least two characters in the play, retracing their experience and focusing on the key moments that define it. (Since the play opens with a contract, you may even consider the experience of the audience.) In what ways do they believe themselves to be making their own choices, and how are they revealed not to be? At what crucial junctures are their intentions thwarted, their capacity for rational judgment or action short-circuited, their value systems abandoned, or their identities transformed? If they achieve any freedom or growth by the end, to what larger forces must they surrender, and are these the same forces to which they initially believed themselves subject? If knowledge in this play means recognizing you are not really a ‘person,’ finally, what characters best embody that lack of agency? Does this play have a hero, or heroes? Who, and why? The best papers will not answer these questions in list-like order, but will shape their arguments to the characters they focus on; they will not just summarize the plot, or paraphrase dialogue, but wherever appropriate use the actual language of the text to develop and deepen their analysis, suggesting connections to other scenes and storylines; they will quote from the play with proper citation*; and they will be written clearly, engagingly, grammatically, and economically.

*NB. For how to cite quoted passages from drama, please consult the last page of your syllabus.