Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Jesse Swan


In understanding the complex nature of textual studies, an important aspect, but often overlooked as just a part of the publishing process, is the different set of biases that each editor imposes on the text. What is often studied is the relationship of the author to the text and developing the enjoyment that one can experience in the exploration of what is referred to as authorial intent. This concept of authorship, however, is one that is distinct to the modem audience. When one considers a text in a modem literacy the single person responsible for what is thought of as the authorship of the work is the focal point. Seldom fully explored, however, are the different preferences that each editor imposes on a text. Readers may unknowingly be more attracted to one editor's stylistic preferences than to that of another's. The editing process, especially in adapting works from the early modem era, is one that is not met without subjectivity. Editors often go unnoticed when studying texts from the early modem period such as that of the works of Thomas Middleton. The work of Thomas Middleton, a well-known playwright who collaborated with such dramatists as William Shakespeare and Thomas Dekker during the 1600s, is the primary focus of this research. Through the critical examination of contributions made by each editor and the general editors, especially Gary Taylor, I work with An/The Old Law: Or, A New Way to Please You, A Mad World My Masters, How To Use This Book (there are two copies of this, similar in nature and both by Taylor but found in the Collected Works and The Companion), the forwards for both plays by Saccio and Masten, and Gary Taylor's Preface: Textual Proximities. From my reading and own interpretation of the editing based on my own biased desires in textual experience, I have concluded that the contributions made by each editor to a work is more than just a part of the publishing process, but, rather, it is part of the creation of the text in a new way. In an effort to explore how different editors find different titillations and interpretations of textuality the Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works and Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to The Collected Works are studied with a focus on the editing choices of Jeffrey Masten and Peter Saccio in two plays by Middleton and how their two very different styles of editing are able exist and enhance the works of Middleton under the general editors Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.

Year of Submission



Department of English Language and Literature

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (26 pages)