Portraits in Early Modern English Drama: Visual Culture, Play-Texts, and Performances, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Portraits in Early Modern English Drama

Visual Culture, Play-Texts, and Performances, 1st Edition

By Emanuel Stelzer


260 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-05-16
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Portraits in Early Modern English Drama studies the complex web of interconnections that grows out of the presentation of portraits as props in early modern English drama. Emanuel Stelzer considers this theory from the Elizabethan age up to the closing of the theatres. This book examines how the dramatic text and the subjectivities of the dramatis personae are shaped and changed through the process of observation and interpretation of pictures in the dramatic actions and dialogues.

Unlike any previous study, it confronts when a portrait is clearly meant not to be a miniature. This also has bearings on the effect of the picture on the audience and in terms of genre expectation. Two important questions are interrogated in the book: What were the price and value of these portraits? and What were the strategies deployed by the playing companies to show women’s portraits in a theatre without actresses?

This book will be of interest to different areas of research dealing with the history of drama and literature, material and visual culture studies, art history, gender studies, and performance studies.

Table of Contents

List of figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part I The meanings of staged portraits: theoretical and historical perspectives; Chapter 1.Interpreting portraits: semiotic approaches; Chapter 2. Early modern visualities; Chapter 3. Early modern English portraiture: objects and poetics;Chapter 4. Portraits on stage in early modern England; Part II. Case studies: portraits in action; Chapter 5. "Closet scenes": The case of Hamlet’s First Quarto (1603); Chapter 6. Tragic limning in John Webster’s The White Devil (1612); Chapter 7. Philip Massinger’s The Picture (1630): Impregnable women and pregnable pictures; Chapter 8. Shadow vision in William Sampson’s The Vow-Breaker (1636); Chapter 9. The drama of Platonic gazing in Caroline Courtly play-texts: William Cartwright’s The Siege (1651); Conclusion; Appendix; Index

About the Author

Emanuel Stelzer is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Bergamo, after earning a PhD there in cotutelle at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen and working as a postdoctoral researcher at Università della Valle d’Aosta. His publications have appeared in Critical Survey, Notes and Queries, and Early Theatre.

About the Series

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
This series presents original research on theatre histories and performance histories; the time period covered is from about 1500 to the early 18th century. Studies in which women's activities are a central feature of discussion are especially of interest; this may include women as financial or technical support (patrons, musicians, dancers, seamstresses, wig-makers) or house support staff (e.g., gatherers), rather than performance per se. We also welcome critiques of early modern drama that take into account the production values of the plays and rely on period records of performance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
DRAMA / Shakespeare
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism