The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre

The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre

by Susan Zimmerman


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780748633630
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Publication date: 08/30/2007
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Table of Contents; Chapter 1; Dead Bodies; (theoretical introduction: Bataille, Douglas, Kristeva, Lacan, Benjamin); Chapter 2; Body Imaging and Religious Reform: The Corpse as Idol (historicist analysis of shifts in sacramental, iconographic, and theological imaging of the corpse from the late medieval to the early modern periods in England); Chapter 3; Animating Matter: The Corpse as Idol in The Second Maiden's Tragedy and The Duke of Milan; (includes analysis of English public theatre); Chapter 4; Invading the Grave: Shadow Lives in The Revenger's Tragedy; and The Duchess of Malfi; (includes analysis of English funerary customs and the practice of anatomical dissection); Chapter 5; Killing the Dead: Duncan's Corpse and Hamlet's Ghost; Epilogue: Last Words.

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