The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre

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Edinburgh University Press, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 214 pages
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Within a theoretical framework that makes use of history, psychoanalysis and anthropology, The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare’s Theatre explores the relationship of the public theatre to the question of what constituted the ‘dead’ in early modern English culture.Susan Zimmerman argues that concepts of the corpse as a semi-animate, generative and indeterminate entity were deeply rooted in medieval religious culture. Such concepts ran counter to early modern discourses that sought to harden categorical distinctions between body/spirit, animate/inanimate – in particular, the attacks of Reformists on the materiality of ‘dead’ idols, and the rationale of the new anatomy for publicly dissecting ‘dead’ bodies. Zimmerman contends that within this context, theatrical representations of the corpse or corpse/revenant – as seen here in the tragedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries – uniquely showcased the theatre’s own ideological and performative agency. Features*Original in its conjunction of critical theory (Bataille, Kristeva, Lacan, Benjamin) with an historical account of the shifting status of the corpse in late medieval and early modern England.*The first study to demonstrate connections between the meanings attached to the material body in early modern Protestantism, the practice of anatomical dissection, and the English public theatre.*Strong market appeal to scholars and graduate students with interests in the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, early modern religion and science, and literary theory. *Relevant to advanced undergraduates taking widely taught courses in Shakespeare and in Renaissance drama.

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Contents

The Corpse as Idol
24
The Corpse as Idol in The Second Maidens
90
Shadow Lives in The Revengers Tragedy
128
Copyright

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About the author (2005)


Susan Zimmerman is Professor of English at the City University of New York

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