1st Edition

Staging the Blazon in Early Modern English Theater

By Sara Morrison, Deborah Uman Copyright 2013

    Offering the first sustained and comprehensive scholarly consideration of the dramatic potential of the blazon, this volume complicates what has become a standard reading of the Petrarchan convention of dismembering the beloved through poetic description. At the same time, it contributes to a growing understanding of the relationship between the material conditions of theater and interpretations of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The chapters in this collection are organized into five thematic parts emphasizing the conventions of theater that compel us to consider bodies as both literally present and figuratively represented through languge. The first part addresses the dramatic blazon as used within the conventions of courtly love. Examining the classical roots of the Petrarchan blazon, the next part explores the violent eroticism of a poetic technique rooted in Ovidian notions of metamorphosis. With similar attention paid to brutality, the third part analyzes the representation of blazonic dismemberment on stage and screen. Figurative battles become real in the fourth part, which addresses the frequent blazons surfacing in historical and political plays. The final part moves to the role of audience, analyzing the role of the observer in containing the identity of the blazoned woman as well as her attempts to resist becoming an objectified spectacle.

    Chapter 1 Setting the Stage, Deborah Uman, Sara Morrison; Part I Petrarchan Lovers in Performance; Chapter 2 Double Exposure: Gazing at Male Fantasy in Shakespearean Comedy, Grant Williams; Chapter 3 Petrarchan Desire, the Female Ghost, and The Winter’s Tale, Katherine R. Kellett; Chapter 4 Dismembering Rhetoric and Lively Action in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Elizabeth Williamson; Part II Staging Blazonic Violence; Chapter 5 Transforming Ovid: Images of Violence, Vulnerability, and Sexuality in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Lisa S. Starks-Estes; Chapter 6 Embodying the Blazon: Performing and Transforming Pain in Measure for Measure and the Duchess of Malfi, Sara Morrison; Part III Dramatizing Dismemberment; Chapter 7 “Limbs mangled and torn asunder”: Dismemberment, Theatricality, and the Blazon in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Patricia Marchesi; Chapter 8 The Cuckold’s Blazon: Dismemberment and Domesticity in Arden of Faversham and A Woman Killed with Kindness, Ariane M. Balizet; Chapter 9 “Ay me, this object kills me!”: Julie Taymor’s Cinematic Blazon in Titus, Thomas P. Anderson; Part IV Historical Reenactments; Chapter 10 By the Book: Blazoning the Subject in Shakespeare’s History Plays, Joseph M. Ortiz; Chapter 11 The Blazon and the Theater of War: The Wars of the Roses and The Plantagenets, Lisa Dickson; Chapter 12 “They use violence to him”: Dismembering the Body Politic in The Rebellion of Naples, Erin E. Kelly; Part V Witnessing the Blazon; Chapter 13 Dissection, Pregnancy, and the Limits of Knowledge in Early Modern Midwifery Treatises and ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Sara D. Luttfring; Chapter 14 The garments of Posthumus”: Identifying the Non-Responsive Body in Cymbeline, Nancy Simpson-Younger; Chapter 15 Blazons of Desire and War in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, Cora Fox;


    Deborah Uman is Associate Professor of English at St. John Fisher College, USA. Sara Morrison is Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College, USA.

    ’Staging the Blazon in Early Modern English Theatre is an essential contribution to early modern studies.’ Parergon 'The contributors to this book provide a wide range of methodological approaches and a scope of primary sources that range from Phillip Sidney to Julie Taymor; but the book has, nonetheless, a cohesive thematic aim. The cohesion rests in its persistent statement that blazons can be performed and active, rather than textual and passive; blazons are witnessed rather than read, enacted rather than spoken.' Early Theatre