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Tuesday, 23 October 2012


First reading group this Friday!

(26 October, 4-6pm, Northumbria University, Lipman 121)


Please join us this Friday (26/10) for the inaugural session of the INDUSTRY IN THEORY reading group.
Industry in Theory will follow the same structure as its earlier, highly-successful counterparts 'Objects in Theory' and 'Spaces in Theory'. In the sessions we will engage with familiar and lesser known theorists alongside a range of literary and nonliterary primary sources, which broadly relate to the theme of industry.
We are hoping to bring people together from across the arts and social sciences in a friendly and informal setting.
Our first session will be led by Laurie McKee, a recent postdoc from Northumbria University and a founding member of the 'In Theory' groups.
It will be on the theme of Commerce and Productive Labour.
We will be discussing the chapter entitled 'Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value' from Karl Marx's Capital which can be found here:
These themes will be examined in relation to Thomas Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday, focusing on Act 2, Scene 3 which can be found here:
and Act 3, Scene 1, here:
Please do not hesitate to contact us at if you require any further information.
We will look forward to seeing you all then!

Summary of The Shoemaker's Holiday

A brief summary of the literary text we will be examining this week by our presenter Laurie McKee:
The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1599)
This is a strange comedy by Thomas Dekker, one of the many apprentice plays which were popular in the period. I’ve chosen this play because of its fascination with work, productivity and labour.  There’s a decent summary of the play on good old Wikipedia:'s_Holiday but I thought I’d briefly explain what’s happening in the scenes we’re looking at:

Act 2, scene 3: Simon Eyre the shoemaker calls his wife, Margery, to sweep the gutters outside his shoe shop, and calls his apprentice boys to rise for work (but not in such a polite manner). His boys appear, as does Margery, who he instructs to “call up the drabs” – the maids. These include Cicily Bumtrinket (!), who is in charge of waxing the thread for shoelaces.

Hugh Lacy, an aristocrat, has disguised himself as a Dutch shoemaker named Hans and wanders past the shoe shop singing in Dekker’s bizarre approximation of a Dutch dialect. The apprentices urge Eyre to hire Hans because he makes them laugh and they assume he’ll be cheap labour and “consume little beef”.  After confirming that Hans has all his own tools, Eyre agrees and instructs his wife and maids to make the men breakfast.

Act 3, scene 1:  Lacy / Hans comes across a ship from Crete full of valuable commodities including “sugar, civet, almonds”. The skipper of the ship urges Hans to buy it on behalf of Simon Eyre because it will ensure his master a good profit.

Firke worries that Margery will scold him for loitering around the streets and not working. But Eyre is quick to leap to the defence of his “brave shoemakers”, instructing his wife to vanish” and “melt like kitchen stuff”.

Hodge and Firke explain that they are currently making shoes for the Lord Mayor’s daughter and her maid. Eyre replies that they should not be concerned with the feet of (again) “kitchen stuff” or “basting ladles” – they should leave these jobs to the foreigner Hans and only work for “ladies of the Court”.

Hans introduces Eyre to the captain and loans Eyre enough money to buy the cargo. Eyre “takes advantage of his status as London citizen to buy cheap from an economically excluded alien [the Dutch merchant who “dares not show his head”] and then sell dear, later” (John Michael Archer, “Citizens and Aliens as Working Subjects in Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday,” in Working Subjects in Early Modern English Drama, ed. Michelle M. Dowd and Natasha Korda (Ashgate, 2011), 37-52. 44).

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