Date of Degree

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor

Tanya Pollard

Keywords

audience response; corpses; ghosts; liminal bodies; Shakespeare; statues

Abstract

Semi-animate corpses, physically powerful ghosts, and natural looking statues serve a powerful metatheatrical purpose in early modern drama. Such liminal bodies, which I define as figures caught between the fictional body and the living actor, model the relation between playgoer, actor, and playwright as they work together to produce theatrical fictions. The dramatized impact of liminal bodies on their onstage spectators draws playgoers' attention to their own experience of the liminally present theatrical world. Such displays of the power and pleasure of artifice paradoxically free theater from the constraining obligation of so-called accurate representation and highlight the pleasure playgoers and actors can find in participating together in imaginative yet embodied theatrical fictions. Ultimately, exploring why and how early modern liminal bodies worked onstage deepens our understanding of how theatrical embodiment shapes playgoer experience.

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