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Look Inside Shakespeare's Memory Theatre

Shakespeare's Memory Theatre
Recollection, Properties, and Character


  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107463288

£ 21.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Focuses on central texts, including Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV parts I and II, Henry V, Hamlet, Macbeth and The Tempest, appealing to the broadest range of Shakespeare scholars
    • Presents new research in early modern mnemonics, introducing new ways of thinking about theatre and the memory arts
    • Emphasizes the role of gender in conceptualizing memory, demonstrating a key connection between the concerns of gender and sexuality and those of intellectual history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Wilder makes a convincing argument that invention and recollection were frequently figured as feminine reproductive activities.' The European Legacy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107463288
    • length: 230 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • 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

  • Author

    Lina Perkins Wilder, Connecticut College
    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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