“[B]egot between tirewomen and tailors”: Commodified Self-Fashioning in Michaelmas Term
Early Modern Literary Studies 5.1 (May, 1999)
In Michaelmas Term Middleton dramatizes the queasy lightness of being at the heart of Jacobean London’s fashionable world of gallants and courtesans. Here, sartorial spectacle is the paradigm of a mode of self-fashioning that is also a mode of self-commodification. Assembled out of commodities and as a commodity, the self is integrated into early modern England’s emerging but wayward and socially disruptive capitalist economy. Middleton, though, does not dramatize this ontological superficiality to pronounce moral judgment on it but to mobilize it as the comic engine of a skeptical critique of dominant ideologies based on essentialist conceptions of the self.