|This, from today's New York Times: a story about "Lush Workers," as they're called in our day and age, who slice open the pants pockets of drunken subway riders to steal their wallets. |
I'm posting it here because it's such a nice revision of a canonical historical oddity -- The Cutpurse -- that sits so prominently in the ways we think about theatrical culture in Tudor and Stuart London. All of the familiar features are here: the unsuspecting, overly confident mark, slumped over and drunk in a public place; the constable, rolling his eyes both at the naivete of the victims and the intractable practices of petty thieves; and the purse-cutter -- now a pocket-slicer -- knowing precisely who to rob and how to do it without attracting notice. Admittedly, there's something a bit inelegant about robbing a corpse-like drunk, and I have a hard time imagining my favorite Jacobean cutpurse, Edgworth, from Bartholomew Fair, bragging about robbing a catatonic Cokes. But there is something to be learned about the contrast set up here in any case.
Here and now, in 21st century New York, a cutpurse -- not a pickpocket, mind you, but an actual cutpurse -- works on anesthetized victims. Men (at least, those of us who still prefer the front-pocket spot) hold their wallets very close to their bodies, and it's a very delicate operation to get in there unnoticed. Says Officer Rudolph of the NYPD: “It’s unbelievable they don’t cut the person’s leg wide open. They’re like surgeons with a razor blade, for God’s sake.” ("Leg" seems like a bit of a euphemism here to me, but that's more my problem than Officer Rudolph's.)
In 1607, owing in part to a different kind of wallet technology, men lost purses in broad daylight when they were wide awake. The enabling element for the cutpurse wasn't alcohol, but sheer distraction. And while there were many, many, many ways to keep someone's attention long enough to permit a quick cut, one of them could have been a performance of, say, Titus Andronicus. The absorption of an audience member into the action on stage would have been thought of -- by thieves, by aldermen, by playwrights, by playgoers -- in the same way we think about falling asleep dead drunk on a train. A particularly good play would leave people open to attack and loss. And, like subway riders who wake up walletless and fuzzy-mouthed six stops past their own, those robbed, distracted audience members would have been embarrassed by their misfortune. They all have no one but themselves to blame.
- Post-Traumatic SAA Syndrome
- SAA: Rumors
- SAA: Really quite a nice conference
- SAA: Caring Makes Me Tired
- MLA Date Change
- MLA if you ARE doing interviews ...
- MLA Day Three: A Day of Shreds and Patches
- MLA Day Two: In which I attend no sessions
- MLA Blogging, part one
- Further Indignities from Kline
- It's Conservative Academic Silly Season Again
- SAA Day Three: "Thrown Into Taint"
- More on SAA Day Two
- SAA Day One: Look Me in the Eye
- Where Not to Have Your Next Reception
- On Pre-Conference Feedback for SAA
- RSA Day Three: I think I insulted someone
- RSA Day One: The New Zombiism Rises
- Usually Uniface in San Francisco
- "I did not want to write political allegory"
- Plato and Bucer, Religion and Sex
- The Uses of Intellectual History
- Political Theologies: An Overview
- No. 7 (winning entry)
- No. 6 (winning entry)
- No. 5 (winning entry)
- No. 4 (winning entry)
- No. 3 (winning entry)
- No. 2 (winning entry)
- No. 1 (winning entry)
- About this project
- The Puritan Widow (c.1607)
- Love's Cure (c.1606/1629)
- The Gentleman Usher (1606)
- The Sparagus Garden (1635)
- The Old Law (c.1618)
- All's Lost by Lust (c.1619)
- Happy Mother's Day, EEBO!
- In Purgatorio
- Early Modern Waterboarding
- Rowlands's Etymologies of Names of Contempt
- Hugh Plat
- The Roundhead's Reply?
- An Odd Ballad: "My Bird is a Round-head"
- Gascoigne's Noble Arte of Venerie
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Thursday, September 10, 2009
|It seems like, now that we have gone dark, or at least grey, we are getting more kudos than ever. Something calling itself the Accredited Online Universities has posted something calling itself the "100 Best Blogs and Websites for Innovative Academics." So if you are innovative, you really should be checking out these blogs and websites. Included among these best for the innovative is BtR:|
Whether you like pretty pictures or pretty words (hopefully both), this site’s got you covered. There are summaries of renaissance conferences, an online reading group, and great photos that help bring Europe to life.We really do hope you like both pretty pictures or pretty words. If you like only one, you are a Philistine. Also, we hope that we have succeeded in bringing Europe to life. It's been kind of dead for a few hundred years. Our British friends certainly know this well.
(I'm upset that Accredited Online Universities did not highlight our special blend of scholarship and snarkiness. This post really brings the scholarship.)
Monday, April 06, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
This image is freaky as all get out (and completely off topic). Barbie has hip and leg "bones." And a skull. If only Richard Brome or A. S. were alive to make a joke about the flesh and the bones.
More cool CT scans here.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
|Stanley Wells has the goods on the Cobbe portrait.|
I personally like to imagine Shakespeare having weight issues as the reason for the fluctuating rotundity of his face in various paintings and carvings.
|It appears Stephon Marbury is doing his best Iago on the Boston Celtics.|
Commented Kevin Garnett: "Weird thing is, he kept calling the other guys moors, which is just really messed up," the 12-time all-star said. "I mean, what is that, anyway? He didn't say it like it was a good thing. If he plays good basketball he can do what he wants, but I'm not going to listen to anyone call me or my guys moors."