Today, metaphors of enactment dominate discussion of Shakespeare. We talk about ‘staging’ and ‘performing’ abstractions: ‘staging history’, for example, or ‘performing nostalgia’. Critics have thus even made a conundrum of the fact that Hamlet ‘stages’ the process of ‘thought’. This lecture will show, conversely, that in the sixteenth century, the real innovation in English theatre was less performative than rhetorical. Influenced by neoclassicism, English dramatists began to use techniques of rhetorical inquiry to supplement theatre's mis-en-scène. Shakespeare irresistably draws us into imagining offstage ‘scenes' as part of a drama of the psyche: this is the seductive Shakespearean ‘unscene’.
Professor Lorna Hutson Berry Professor of English Literature, University of St Andrews
Chaired by Professor John Kerrigan FBA, University of Cambridge
About the speaker:
Lorna Hutson is Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews and will be Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford from September 2016. Her books include Thomas Nashe in Context (1989), The Usurer’s Daughter (1994), The Invention of Suspicion (2007), and Circumstantial Shakespeare (2015).
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