Shakespeare's Memory Theatre: Recollection, Properties, and Character

Overview

Ranging from Yorick's skull to Desdemona's handkerchief, Shakespeare's mnemonic objects help audiences to recall, or imagine, staged and unstaged pasts. This study reinterprets the ‘places' and ‘objects' of the memory arts as a conceptual model for theatrical performance. While the memory arts demand a ‘masculine' mental and physical discipline, recollection in Shakespeare's plays exploits the distrusted physicality of women and clowns. In Shakespeare's ‘memory theatre', some mnemonic objects, such as Prospero's ...
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Overview

Ranging from Yorick's skull to Desdemona's handkerchief, Shakespeare's mnemonic objects help audiences to recall, or imagine, staged and unstaged pasts. This study reinterprets the ‘places' and ‘objects' of the memory arts as a conceptual model for theatrical performance. While the memory arts demand a ‘masculine' mental and physical discipline, recollection in Shakespeare's plays exploits the distrusted physicality of women and clowns. In Shakespeare's ‘memory theatre', some mnemonic objects, such as Prospero's books, are notable by their absence; others, such as the portraits of Claudius and Old Hamlet, embody absence. Absence creates an atmosphere of unfulfilled desire. Engaging this desire, the plays create a theatrical community that remembers past performances. Combining materialist, historicist, and cognitive approaches, Wilder establishes the importance of recollection for understanding the structure of Shakespeare's plays and the social work done by performance in early modern London.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
".. uses Renaissance memory techniques to study moments in which the recollection process is dramatized."
-- Studies in English Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107463288
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/6/2014
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Lina Perkins Wilder is Assistant Professor of English at Connecticut College. A recent Snyder Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library, she has published articles on Shakespeare, character, memory, performance theory, and postcolonial drama in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare, and Modern Drama.
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Table of Contents

Introduction. Staging memory; 1. Mnemonic desire and place-based memory systems: body, book, and theatre; 2. 'I do remember': the nurse, the apothecary, and Romeo; 3. Wasting memory: competing mnemonics in the Henry plays; 4. 'Baser matter' and mnemonic pedagogy in Hamlet; 5. 'The handkerchief, my mind misgives': false past in Othello; 6. 'Flaws and starts': fragmented recollection in Macbeth; 7. Mnemonic control and watery disorder in The Tempest; Conclusion. A 'most small fault': feminine 'nothings' and the spaces of memory; Bibliography.
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