Historical Contextualization

I started this essay by working from a complete draft of a close reading. I knew that I had a decent start on some key ideas about The Tempest, but my instructor and I agreed that my claim and argument needed to be developed. I approached my historical sources looking for a way to develop my thesis and clean up a messy argument.

I used Henry Crosse’s Virtues Commonwealth, largely because I had worked with it before and was familiar with the argument at hand. I knew that this text would develop my argument rather than taking it off track. I also stumbled across a work by Anthony Munday, but I was more interested in the author rather than the text. Mudays story provided a real life example of the pressures of the theater at work.

These sources helped me to create a more concrete claim about The Tempest. In my close reading, I struggled to make a claim about the atmosphere surrounding the theatre without using historical sources. Since I lacked the authority to make historical claims, I tried to take my argument in a variety of different ways. Each time it felt like I was reaching for something that I knew was present in the text, but I couldn’t quite prove. Crosse and Munday gave me direction and authority, thus making my argument easier to follow.

After writing a first draft, I turned to a peer for feedback. From her feedback, I decided to include more information about each of my historical sources. I also chose to provide a deeper analysis of the text in relation to those sources

I then turned in a second draft for feedback from my instructor.

Initially, I discussed each source in a separate paragraph, but after receiving instructor feedback it was clear that this organization muddled the point I was trying to make. By combining the context into one paragraph, I could clearly state what I wanted the reader to bring with them as they read my close reading.

He also pointed out that while I was trying to focus on Shakespeare’s rebellion from the audience, the true rebellion was against the antitheatricalists and their assumptions about the audience. I adjusted my claim accordingly and went through the rest of my essay to make sure my close reading is consistent.

Since starting this topic with my close reading essay, I had finally developed a claim that I felt was coherent and arguable! It took six drafts, which goes to show how much the writing process depends on feedback and revisions.

 Check out my final draft here.