What work did physically disabled characters do for the early modern theatre? Through a consideration of a range of plays, including Doctor Faustus and Richard III, Genevieve Love argues that the figure of the physically disabled prosthetic body in early modern English theatre mediates a set of related 'likeness problems' that structure the theatrical, textual, and critical lives of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
The figure of disability stands for the relationship between actor and character: prosthetic disabled characters with names such as Cripple and Stump capture the simultaneous presence of thefictional and the material, embodied world of the theatre. When the figure of the disabled body exits the stage, it also mediates a second problem of likeness, between plays in their performed and textual forms. While supposedly imperfect textual versions of plays have been characterized as 'lame', the dynamic movement of prosthetic disabled characters in the theatre expands the figural role which disability performs in the relationship between plays on the stage and on the page.
Early Modern Theatre and the Figure of Disability reveals how attention to physical disability enriches our understanding of early modern ideas about how theatre works, while illuminating in turban how theatre offers a reframing of disability as metaphor.
About the Author
Genevieve Love is Associate Professor of English at Colorado College, USA. Her work has appeared in jourbanals including Renaissance Drama, Upstart, Shakespeare Bulletin, and Literature Compass, and in essay collections including Richard II: New Critical Essays, edited by Jeremy Lopez (2012) and Christopher Marlowe, Repertorial Commerce, and the Book Trade, edited by Roslyn Knutson and Kirk Melnikoff (2018).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Disability and/as Theatricality
Chapter 1 The Work of Standing and of Standing-for: Disability, Movement, Theatrical Personation in The Fair Maid of the Exchange
Chapter 2 The Sound of Prosthetic Movement: Transnational and Temporal Analogy in A Larum for London
Chapter 3 'Faustus has his legge again': Truncation and Prosthesis, Theatricality and Bibliography in Doctor Faustus
Chapter 4 Richard's 'giddy footing': Degree of Difference and Cyclical Movement in Shakespeare's Richard III