New Release Books by Alex MacConochie

Alex MacConochie is the author of Staging Touch in Shakespeare's England (2022).

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Staging Touch in Shakespeare's England

release date: Jan 27, 2022
Staging Touch in Shakespeare's England
When Shakespearean characters kiss, embrace, or shake hands, what does it mean? Are dramatic characters following established rules of conduct, or breaking them? Are there rules to break? Staging Touch in Shakespeare's England addresses these and related questions and, in the process, uncovers the social semiotics of contact in the early modern theatre. Its central argument is twofold. First, dramatic characters use touch to define and contest the nature of their relationships: taking hands means something different than embracing or, indeed, holding hands a different way. Second, the definitions, the social roles of actions like these, are up for debate in venues ranging from sermons to the era's burgeoning literature on conduct. The drama not only portrays but participates in these debates. Where characters touch, so do different ideas about contact's role in a variety of contexts, from love and friendship to politics and business deals. Attending to the social roles of touch--what it signifies as much as how it feels--the book develops an outside-in approach to our understanding of early modern sensation: a sociology, rather than a phenomenology, of theatrical contact. It will be of use to editors, performers, and anyone interested in Shakespearean approaches to embodiment. Locating interpersonal touch at the centre of dialogues on consent, subjection, agency, and sexuality, this study offers new perspectives on an essential element of Renaissance drama.


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