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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

Chapter 10 - Jonson and Modern Memory

from Part III - Jonsonian Afterlives


This essay asks what traces Jonson has left in culture outside the academy during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It explores material from films, music, advertising, cartoons and fantasy literature to investigate how far he still has name recognition in the general cultural consciousness, and what ideas or associations cluster around him. In modern times, Jonson continues to be remembered as the foil to Shakespeare, and is most typically invoked in relation to bodily consumption and good-fellowship. However, unlike Marlowe, Milton, or even Donne, whose names do have resonance in relation to (respectively) queer identity, republicanism, and sexuality, Jonson’s ‘myth’ does not seem today to have equivalent presence or collective recognition. The essay asks why this should be and what it tells us about his legacy and our selective perception of the early modern past.

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