At Home in Shakespeare's Tragedies  book cover
1st Edition

At Home in Shakespeare's Tragedies

ISBN 9781138275430
Published November 16, 2016 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Bringing together methods, assumptions and approaches from a variety of disciplines, Geraldo U. de Sousa's innovative study explores the representation, perception, and function of the house, home, household, and family life in Shakespeare's great tragedies. Concentrating on King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth, de Sousa's examination of the home provides a fresh look at material that has been the topic of fierce debate. Through a combination of textual readings and a study of early modern housing conditions, accompanied by analyses that draw on anthropology, architecture, art history, the study of material culture, social history, theater history, phenomenology, and gender studies, this book demonstrates how Shakespeare explores the materiality of the early modern house and evokes domestic space to convey interiority, reflect on the habits of the mind, interrogate everyday life, and register elements of the tragic journey. Specific topics include the function of the disappearance of the castle in King Lear, the juxtaposition of home-centered life in Venice and nomadic, 'unhoused' wandering in Othello, and the use of special lighting effects to reflect this relationship, Hamlet's psyche in response to physical space, and the redistribution of domestic space in Macbeth. Images of the house, home, and household become visually and emotionally vibrant, and thus reflect, define, and support a powerful tragic narrative.



Geraldo U. de Sousa, Professor of English at the University of Kansas, is the author of Shakespeare's Cross-Cultural Encounters and editor of Mediterranean Studies. He has published extensively on Renaissance drama and culture.


'Geraldo de Sousa lifts the interpretation of Shakespearean tragedy to new levels of complexity and integration. He identifies home as a fundamental concept of culture, demonstrates how it shapes social codes and individual identity, and illustrates how place is used on stage to dramatize the ways characters inhabit space, and how space embeds beliefs and values, and illuminates family, political, and social systems. In addition, de Sousa reveals the power of Shakespeare's art to evoke the presence of tragedy in the ordinary spaces of everyday life. The human drama of being alive is rendered with remarkable acuity.' Dick Raspa, Wayne State University, USA ’This well-researched, well-written book provides an interdisciplinary approach to the symbolic connotations of home in Shakespeare's four major tragedies... this well-researched, stimulating study deserves the attention of readers in various disciplines... Recommended.’ Choice '[This] book builds on a growing critical awareness of the centrality of the domestic to early modern ways of thinking. Less rigidly historicist than much work in this area, it ranges from modern performance and the SAS Survival Handbook to Caravaggio's use of shadow, supposedly adopted by Shakespeare "to create illusions of distance"... a rich and multifaceted repository of ideas. [De Sousa's] emotional readings shine out here.' Times Literary Supplement 'This book offers detailed, insightful readings of each play that are thoroughly informed by de Sousa's careful attention to the material conditions of space and place. It is compelling, as well, for the implications it has for the staging of the plays as it builds upon recent groundbreaking work on stage directions and early modern theatrical conditions to foreground Shakespeare's ability to take advantage of the bare platform as a flexible and vibrant canvas. For scholars, students, and performers of Shakespeare, At Home in Shakespeare's Tragedies is most engaging in that it off