Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation (Hardback)
  • Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation (Hardback)
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Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation (Hardback)

(author)
£67.00
Hardback 298 Pages / Published: 01/12/2011
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Holger Syme presents a radically new explanation for the theatre's importance in Shakespeare's time. He portrays early modern England as a culture of mediation, dominated by transactions in which one person stood in for another, giving voice to absent speakers or bringing past events to life. No art form related more immediately to this culture than the theatre. Arguing against the influential view that the period underwent a crisis of representation, Syme draws upon extensive archival research in the fields of law, demonology, historiography and science to trace a pervasive conviction that testimony and report, delivered by properly authorised figures, provided access to truth. Through detailed close readings of plays by Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare - in particular Volpone, Richard II and The Winter's Tale - and analyses of criminal trial procedures, the book constructs a revisionist account of the nature of representation on the early modern stage.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107011854
Number of pages: 298
Weight: 620 g
Dimensions: 235 x 163 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'While Shakespeare critics debate the merits of text versus performance, page versus stage, Holger Schott Syme's powerful new study argues for attending the relationship between the two ... Syme offers original and unexpected insights into a broad range of dramatic and legal fictions, from comedies and romances to treason trials.' Professor Lorna Hutson, University of St Andrews
'Syme's analyses are profoundly revisionary, wonderfully original, even contrarian, and supported by a wealth of careful detail and intelligent and subtle readings. This may be one of those rare books that makes scholars reconsider what has become received wisdom about early modern performance and its means of authorization.' William N. West, Northwestern University
"While Shakespeare critics debate the merits of text versus performance, page versus stage, Holger Schott Syme's powerful new study argues for attending the relationship between the two. Early modern English law and theater both derive their lively oral evocations from written imitations of speech; in tracking this shared dependence on a scripted illusion of voice and presence, Syme offers original and unexpected insights into a broad range of dramatic and legal fictions, from comedies and romances to treason trials." -Professor Lorna Hutson, University of St Andrews
"Theatre and Testimony is a masterful survey of how, against prevailing historicist and theoretical arguments on the writing and culture of this period, the Elizabethan and Jacobean world established multiple forms of authority, in particular in the fields of law and theater, through strategies which relied on mediation, circulation, and the multiplication of sources. Syme's analyses are profoundly revisionary, wonderfully original, even contrarian, and supported by a wealth of careful detail and intelligent and subtle readings. It is hard to overstate the extent to which his argument requires a revision of the way literary scholars since 1980 and the rise of New Historicism have seen Tudor and Stuart culture. This may be one of those rare books that makes scholars reconsider what has become received wisdom about early modern performance and its means of authorization." -William N. West, Northwestern University
"Dense, erudite, complex, and compelling, this volume...does argue effectively for understanding the relationship between voice and text, and for 'conjuring reality through the denial of presence.'" -Choice

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