Visiting Speaker Series: Lechers and Loose Men

The Department of English Language & Literatures Visiting Speaker Series presents

Lechers and Loose Men:  Queering Consumption in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Theatres

by Dr. Derrick Higginbotham, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Thursday, October 18
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Buchanan Tower 323

“In this paper, I argue that the figure of the waster is key to understanding both the role of the theater in an expanding global economy and the anxiety excited by those commercial changes as more and more men turned to the delights of consuming various goods. A waster spends wealth excessively on consumables, succumbing to desires that are violently pleasurable and without apparent limits; the loss of wealth spurred by such desires threatens bankruptcy, dangerously undermining an individual’s economic standing. I read this figure in Ben Jonson’s 1614 comedy Bartholomew Fair alongside its medieval and Tudor analogues to examine how wasting wealth stresses the queerness of consumption, highlighting wasting’s ability to upset norms of sexuality and gender. My argument, in the end, reveals interconnections between gendered sexuality and economics—two domains often considered separate in history and in theory—as well as the theatre’s role in fashioning self-restraint as a distinctive yet problematic solution to the conflicts that consumption creates in England’s newly globalizing economy.”


After having taught at the University of Cape Town for five years, DERRICK HIGGINBOTHAM is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where he specializes in premodern literatures, queer theory, and contemporary queer cultures, especially on the African continent. Currently, he is finishing his first book, Winners and Wasters: Profit, Pleasure and Plays in Late Medieval and Early Modern England; he co-edited a collection of essays with Dr. Victoria Collis-Buthelezi, entitled Contested Intimacies: Sexuality, Gender, and the Law in Africa. Moreover, he has published on queerness in Shakespeare’s Richard II, the depiction of rape in Fletcher and Shakespeare’s Cardenio, and a more recent piece on race, sexuality, and enslavement in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife.

Visiting Speaker Series 2018-2019