Marlowe's Strange Cities

  • Adam Hansen


Christopher Marlowe is not an obvious candidate for thinking about the early modern city’s strangers. He was not born and did not study in London, England’s just-burgeoning centre of urban culture, and did not set any of his plays there. However, Marlowe’s figurings of the urban environment were attuned to the period’s sense of cities as places of uncanny flux, strangeness, and estrangement. Through close readings of texts including The Jew of Malta, Dido, Queen of Carthage, and Lucan’s First Book, I explore the ways Marlowe’s strange cities are made and unmade on stage and page, and how his audiences could both locate and lose themselves in the urban contexts he depicts. Marlowe’s works remind people past and present that a city like London can be strange to many, not just strangers.