Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation

Theatre and Testimony in Shakespeare's England: A Culture of Mediation

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Holger Schott Syme
Cambridge University Press, 12/1/2011
EAN 9781107011854, ISBN10: 110701185X

Hardcover, 320 pages, 23.5 x 16.3 x 2 cm
Language: English

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.

the authenticity of mediation
1. Trial representations
live and scripted testimony in criminal prosecutions
2. Judicial digest
Edward Coke reads the Essex papers
3. Performance anxiety
bringing scripts to life in court and on stage
4. Royal depositions
Richard II, early modern historiography, and the authority of deferral
5. The reporter's presence
narrative as theatre in The Winter's Tale
the theatre of the twice-told tale
Select bibliography.

Advance praise: '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