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Grant number: FT-249089-16

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Jane Degenhardt
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Amherst, MA 01003-9242)

Chance, Providence and Overseas Exploration in Early Modern English Drama

Completion of a book-length study on British maritime exploration, ethics, and the concept of fortune in 17th-century English drama.

My book-in-progress, Fortune's Empire, focuses on the shifting meaning of "fortune" in early modern English drama to explore the ways that England's early forays into overseas trade and colonial exploration forged a new connection between financial and cosmic "fortune." As I demonstrate, England's nascent overseas ventures heightened awareness of the role of fortune in the world--both as a cosmic force of chance and as an emerging understanding of wealth that was earned rather than inherited. I show how the theater played an active and vital role in shaping and critiquing these evolving understandings of fortune and cultivating proper ethical responses to new forms of economic investment. Drawing attention to an archive of plays dramatizing maritime travel, trade, and exploration, I identify "fortune" as a pivotal keyword in early modern English drama, arguing that it distinguishes England's incipient struggle to enter the world of empires.

Project fields:
British Literature; Renaissance Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2016 – 6/30/2016