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Sounding the Space between Men: Choric and Choral Cities in Ben Jonson's Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


In Ben Jonson's Epicoene, the misanthropic Morose pathologically seals his home against the “common noises” of London, “turning Turk” against his neighbors. What opens up the queer space of Morose's home, ironically, is his equally queer marriage to a cross-dressed boy, a travesty of marital domesticity that parallels the urban travesty of spatial isolation. While the eventual breaching of architectural and gender facades seems to reinscribe social norms, Jonson's play profoundly questions how we construct the space of home, the space of self. Indeed, by setting Epicoene near the Whitefriars theater, where the play was first performed, Jonson adopts chorographic techniques to represent “home” to viewers drawn from that social and spatial milieu. Through a reconsideration of Plato's chora, this essay explores how a vengeful community wrenches open Morose's closet-cum-home, forcing him to renounce his manhood and reducing him to a nonsubject.

Research Article
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2007

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