Encounters with the Missing: From the Invisible Act to In/visible Acts
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This is a book about violence against women around the turn of the seventeenth century in England: its pernicious erasure in cultural texts of all kinds, the negotiations of that erasure in some of the most iconic plays in English theatre history, and the rehearsal of those negotiations on our late twentieth- and twenty-first-century stages. I shape my argument around the deliberate collision of the historical and the contemporary as I try to imagine what it might mean to represent early modern experiences of violence against women on the stage in an ethical way, a feminist way, today. The moment in theatre history dominated by Shakespeare’s cohort is often described as brutally spectacular. I ask: among its vivid, grotesque representations of bodies, blood, and revenge, how and why does violence against women go so spectacularly missing? What role does early modern England’s heady performance culture play in the shaping of this central absence, and what legacies does it leave for theatre makers, theatre scholars, and theatregoers working on its remains now? Can we rehearse the (often indeed spectacular) disappearance of violence against women in early modern performance without reproducing it? That is, can we rehearse it with a difference, rehearse its very cultural invisibility in order to get a better purchase on how and why violence against women so often (then, and even now) comes into existence as a violent and violating evacuation?
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Rape Victim Reasonable Correction Feminist Performance Excessive Correction
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