Madeleine Doran (August 12, 1905 – October 19, 1996) was an American literary critic and poet who taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from the early 1930s until her retirement in the 1970s. Doran's work combined historical and formalist impulses. Her most famous work, Endeavors of Art, analyzed Medieval and Renaissance aesthetic treatises as a route to understanding the dramaturgy of Elizabethan playwrights. Endeavors of Art also helped define the relative weight and significance of classical, Italian, and English influences on the drama. The work, as Doran explains, "is an attempt to reconstruct some part of the context of ideas, assumptions, and predispositions about literary art in which Shakespeare and his fellow English dramatists, at the height of their country's Renaissance, must have worked, and to suggest ways in which these things may have helped shape their art."
Doran also published Shakespeare's Dramatic Language, a collection of critical essays, in 1976. She edited A Midsummer Night's Dream for Pelican Shakespeare and Thomas Heywood's If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody for the Malone Society. An early monograph arguing that the difference between the quarto and folio versions of King Lear indicated authorial revision was largely unpersuasive when it appeared in the 1930s; however, the argument was taken up by later critics and has proved influential in recent critical and editorial practice.
Doran was also a poet. Her volumes are a collection of essays, Something About Swans (1973) and Time's Foot (1974); the latter volume won the Banta Award of the Wisconsin Library Association.
- Madeleine Doran, Endeavors of Art, Binghamton, Vail-Ballou Press, 1954; pp. 3.
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