Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor

GARY TAYLOR has been working on Middleton for more than twenty years. Middleton features prominently in his books Cultural Selection, Castration, and Buying Whiteness; he has also written 20 articles on many different aspects of Middleton’s work, and lectured on Middleton in many venues. Formerly chair of the English Department at Brandeis University, and Director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at the University of Alabama, he is currently George Matthew Edgar Professor of English at Florida State University.

He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, and worked for eight years in Oxford as General Editor (with Stanley Wells) of the Oxford University Press editions of Shakespeare’s Complete Works (1986, revised 2005).
He is also General editor of the Palgrave series Signs of Race (2005-).

He was the founder and first Director (2005-7) of the interdisciplinary History of Text Technologies program at FSU, and has written about the practice and theory of editing in various periods and genres; he served (1995) as one of the judges of the first MLA prize for editing, and in 2006 gave the McKenzie lectures at Oxford University on Edward Blount, the chief publisher of the 1623 Shakespeare folio. Taylor’s Moment by Moment by Shakespeare (MacMillan, 1985) was the winner of a Choice Award for “Outstanding Academic Book.” His other books include a history of Shakespeare’s reputation (Reinventing Shakespeare, 1989: “the most ambitious book on Shakespeare ever written”, according to a review in Shakespeare Quarterly), a theory of artistic reputations generally (Cultural Selection, 1996: “brilliant insights and beautifully reasoned prose…an original and striking analysis of culture”, according to the New York Times Book Review), and “an abbreviated history of Western manhood” (Castration, 2000: “terrific reading,” according to He has also worked to communicate contemporary literary theory and criticism to a mass audience (newspapers, radio, TV, and theatres in North America and UK).

Middleton Publications

Buying Whiteness: Race, Culture, and Identity from Columbus to Hip Hop (Palgrave, 2005). Chapter 5 (“Popular Whiteness”) identifies The Triumphs of Truth (1613) and A Game at Chess (1624) as the earliest popular texts to use the adjective “white” in something close to its modern racial sense.

Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood (Routledge, 2000).
Argues that Freud’s theories about castration in particular, and male sexuality more generally, were anachronistic, and that Middleton represents better than any other writer a major historical shift in Western conceptions of the sexed body.

Cultural Selection (Basic Books, 1996).
Develops a theory of the mechanism of cultural memory and competition, which among other things explains why Shakespeare was canonized and Middleton was not.

Gary Taylor and John Jowett, Shakespeare Reshaped 1606-1623 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993).
The bulk of this book (co-written with Jowett) provides extensive evidence that Middleton was responsible for adapting Measure for Measure after Shakespeare’s death; other chapters discuss act intervals in early modern London (including Middleton examples) and theatrical censorship of profanity (including expurgation in Measure for Measure).

“Thomas Middleton, The Spanish Gypsy, and Multiple Collaboration,” in Words That Count: Essays on Early Modern Authorship, ed. Brian Boyd (University of Delaware Press, 2004), 241-73.
Provides evidence that Gypsy was written by four collaborators: Middleton, Rowley, Dekker, and Ford.

“Shakespeare’s Mediterranean Measure for Measure”, in Shakespeare and the Mediterranean: The Selected Proceedings of the International Shakespeare Association World Congress, Valencia, 2001, ed. Tom Clayton, Susan Brock, and Vicente Forés (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), 243-69.
Provides evidence that Middleton was responsible for changing the setting of Measure for Measure from an Italian city (probably Ferrara) to Vienna.

“Thomas Middleton”, in The New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
Takes account of a century of biographical scholarship on Middleton since the first DNB article on Middleton was written.

“Middleton and Rowley–and Heywood: The Old Law and New Technologies of Attribution,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 96 (2002), 165-217. Identifies the third author in Old Law as Heywood, not Massinger.

“Power, Pathos, Character,” in Harold Bloom and the Interpretation of Shakespeare, ed. Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 43-64.
Discusses the problem of canonical and critical authority from the perspective of the treatment of free speech and slander in Shakespeare and Middleton.

“Thomas Middleton, The Nice Valour, and the Court of James I,” The Court Historian, VI (2001), 1-36.
Argues that the play was written in 1622, and that its characters and plot are influenced by events associated with the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War.

“Divine [ ]sences,” Shakespeare Survey 54 (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 13-30. Contrasts the representation of God in Shakespeare and Middleton.

“Gender, Hunger, Horror: The History and Significance of The Bloody Banquet,” Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, 1 (2001), 1-45.
Provides evidence that the play was written in 1608 or 1609, and interprets its representation of cannibalism and female sexuality in relation to a larger theory of “the Edible Complex”.

“Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, and The Bloody Banquet,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 94 (2000), 197-233.
Provides extensive new evidence that the play was written by Middleton and Dekker, and that the extant text represents a later abridgement and adaptation of the original.

“c:\wp\file.txt 05:41 10-07-98”, in The Renaissance Text: Theory, History, Editing, ed. Andrew Murphy (Manchester University Press, 2000), 44-54.
Taking specific examples from Shakespeare and Middleton, this essay analyzes the implications for editing (and for cultural history more generally) of the shift from a text-based to a file-based society.

Gary Taylor, Paul Mulholland, and MacD. P. Jackson, “Thomas Middleton, Lording Barry, and The Family of Love”, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 93 (1999), 213-242.
Identifies Barry as sole author of the play, and dates in c. 1605.

“Feeling Bodies”, in Shakespeare in the Twentieth Century: Proceedings of the Sixth World Shakespeare Congress, ed. Jonathan Bate et al. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998), 258-79.
Argues that Shakespeare and Middleton exemplify an historic “routinized commodification of affect” in early modern London.

“Judgement”, in New Ways of Looking at Old Texts: Papers of the English Renaissance Text Society, ed. W. Speed Hill (Renaissance English Text Society, 1998), 91-100. Argues that editing, criticism, and life cannot avoid judgments of value, illustrating ten propositions with examples from Shakespeare and Middleton.

“Forms of Opposition: Shakespeare and Middleton”, English Literary Renaissance, 24 (1994), 283-314.
Argues that Shakespeare (from the perspective of Catholic nostalgia) and Middleton (from the perspective of opposition Calvinism) both resisted, in different ways, the political authorities and dominant ideologies of their time.

“Farrago”, Textual Practice, 8 (1994), 33-42.
A theory of editing based on the non-uniformity of texts, books, canons, and authors.

“Bardicide,” in Shakespeare and Cultural Traditions: Proceedings of the Fifth World Shakespeare Congress, ed. Roger Pringle et al (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1994), 333-49.
Discusses the death of poets and the relationship between poetry and popular culture, contrasting Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with various works by Middleton, including particularly Father Hubburd’s Tales.

“The Renaissance and the End of Editing”, in Palimpsest: Textual Theory and the Humanities, ed. George Bornstein and Ralph G. Williams (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), 121-50.
Argues that every theory of editing is a theory of intertextuality, that the models of textual space provided by Derrida and Foucault are deeply flawed, and that modernist Anglo-American theories of editing have been warped by generalizing the peculiar conditions of the Shakespeare canon; contrasts models based on Shakespeare with those that might be based on Middleton.