Spectacular Bodies: Shakespeare and Counter-cultural Performance (EAS3231)

30 credits

This module looks at plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Middleton and Webster, concentrating on the reception of these playwrights both in criticism and in modern performance (defined broadly to include online remediations, theatre broadcasts and a broad range of adaptations) and visual culture. You will be invited to think about the centrality of Shakespeare in present-day Western performance culture and to analyse the assumptions that lie behind the ‘mainstreaming’ of Shakespeare and the association of ‘Jacobean’ drama with counter-cultural forces. As you do so, you will learn to distinguish between performances in different media and explore how the affordances of specific media affect how audiences encounter early modern drama today. We will look at Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean bodies both as dramatic metaphors and as literal presences on stages, screens, in images and installations, focusing on the ways in which early modern plays (in particular, tragedies) repeatedly represent bodies in traumatic situations: raped, dismembered, defiled, tortured, dead, decomposing.