You are warmly invited to the fourth Queen Mary PGRS seminar of this term on Thursday 4th March 5pm, which will be hosted on Zoom. We are delighted to be joined by Dr Todd Andrew Borlik (University of Huddersfield) who will be speaking on: Christopher Marlowe and Renaissance MalthusianismRegister here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/qmul-english-postgraduate-research-seminar-dr-todd-borlik-tickets-143083555767. Two centuries before Thomas Malthus’s demographic bombshell, a number of Renaissance intellectuals were exercised by the problem of population control. In late Elizabethan England, the fear of a mounting population crisis was particularly acute amongst the circle of Walter Ralegh and Frances Walsingham, whose intellectual orbit included an upstart playwright named Christopher Marlowe. Situating Marlovian drama alongside early modern population discourse, this paper uncovers evidence of proto-Malthusian logic in his plays Tamburlaine and Edward II. There is a chilling significance in the fact that the protagonist of the former play is a Scythian conqueror whose armies killed off an estimated 5% of the earth’s total human population. No wonder the play imagines Tamburlaine as a divine "scourge" and wields the peculiar verb "depopulate" in two separate speeches. In Edward II, a king with homosexual proclivities likewise fantasizes about a depopulated England and subverts the dynastic narrative of reproductive futurity. Significantly, the turbulence of Edward’s reign had been exacerbated by a lethal famine that marked the onset of the Little Ice Age. Rather than promoting coexistence and sustainability, Marlovian tragedy espouses an anti-humanist view of the cheapness of human life that reflects swelling concerns about overpopulation in an increasingly cramped London during an era of recurrent scarcity. Tamburlaine and Edward II thus reveal the long history of demodystopia, while affording insights into the problematic, double-edged nature of eco-demography in modern environmentalism. For more information, or to get in contact, please visit our website [link: https://queenmaryenglish.wordpress.com/] or follow us on Twitter: @QMEnglishPGRS.
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