Floating daggers, enchanted handkerchiefs, supernatural storms, and moving statues have tantalized Shakespeare’s readers and audiences for centuries. The essays in Shakespeare’s Things: Shakespearean Theatre and the Non-Human World in History, Theory, and Performance renew attention to non-human influence and agency in the plays, exploring how Shakespeare anticipates new materialist thought, thing theory, and object studies while presenting accounts of intention, action, and expression that we have not yet noticed or named. By focusing on the things that populate the plays—from commodities to props, corpses to relics—they find that canonical Shakespeare, inventor of the human, gives way to a lesser-known figure, a chronicler of the ceaseless collaboration among persons, language, the stage, the object world, audiences, the weather, the earth, and the heavens.
BRETT GAMBOA AND LAWRENCE SWITZKY
2 Reviving Vitalism in King Lear
3 Understanding Shakespeare’s Shoes
4 Mirrors and Macbeth’s Queer Materialism
JOHN S. GARRISON
5 The Mirror and Age in Shakespeare’s Sonnets
6 Shakespeare’s Babies: “Things to Come at Large”
7 Eliot and His Problems: Hamlet’s Correlative Objects
8 Shakespeare’s Virtuous Properties
JULIA REINHARD LUPTON
9 The Power to Die: Liveliness, Minor Agency, and Shakespeare’s Female Characters
10 Shakespeare’s Dark Ecologies: Rethinking the Environment in Macbeth and King Lear
11 Human Remains: Acting, Objects, and Belief in Performance
12 Shakespeare’s Puppets
13 Art, Objecthood, and the Extended Audience: Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works
14 “Newes from the Dead”: An Unnatural Moment in the History of Natural Philosophy
15 Tail-Piece: Shake That Thing
"This dynamic collection of essays explores the theatrical objects, vibrant matter, and more-than-human things that populate Shakespeare’s stage, demonstrating that the new in new materialism isn’t that new after all. Whether analyzing human remains, Elizabethan shoes, atmospheric conditions, or the peculiar powers of baby-props, the authors assembled here by editors Brett Gamboa and Lawrence Switzky offer fresh, engaging readings of Shakespeare’s plays on the page and in production. Shakespeare’s Things is a must-read collection for anyone interested in the intersection of new materialist thought, theatre history, and Shakespeare studies."
--Marlis Schweitzer, co-editor (with Joanne Zerdy), Performing Objects and Theatrical Things
"In Shakespeare’s Things: Shakespearean Theatre and the Non-Human World in History, Theory, and Performance, Brett Gamboa and Lawrence Switzky offer an imaginative collection of fifteen essays catching the wave of the "non-human turn" in the humanities to search out new territory for the agency of things in Shakespeare’s plays and their performances. Things that do things are essential to the work of theatre, a thingy agency bespeaking the stage as practicing a kind of new materialism avant la lettre. Tracing the animating power of mirrors and shoes, skulls and puppets, rag-bundle "babies" and an actively ecological (not merely symbolic) setting, the essays gathered here resituate the porous—play/stage; stage/world—identities of dramatic theatre, notably by vigorously negotiating the consequential slippage between things and us. Shakespeare’s Things, attending to the historical, theoretical, and theatrical work of things, fashions a network of interpretive, ethical, and philosophical questions that remake a staid confidence in the Shakespearean "human" at the interface with its defining, non-human others."
--W. B. Worthen, Alice Brady Pels Professor in the Arts, Barnard College, Columbia University