Shakespeare's Sense of Character

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  • Edited by Yu Jin Ko, Wellesley College, USA and Michael W. Shurgot, South Puget Sound Community College, USA
  • Series: Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
  • Making a unique intervention in an incipient but powerful resurgence of academic interest in character-based approaches to Shakespeare, this book brings scholars and theatre practitioners together to rethink why and how character continues to matter. Contributors seek in particular to expand our notions of what Shakespearean character is, and to extend the range of critical vocabularies in which character criticism can work. The return to character thus involves incorporating as well as contesting postmodern ideas that have radically revised our conceptions of subjectivity and selfhood. At the same time, by engaging theatre practitioners, this book promotes the kind of comprehensive dialogue that is necessary for the common endeavor of sustaining the vitality of Shakespeare's characters.
  • Contents: Introduction, Yu Jin Ko; Part 1 Shakespearean Persons: How dark was it in that room? Performing a scene Shakespeare never wrote, Michael Bristol; Shakespearean characters and early modern subjectivity: the case of King Lear, Bruce W. Young; What makes someone a character in Shakespeare, William Flesch; Wopsle’s revenge, or, reading Hamlet as character in Great Expectations, James E. Berg. Part 2 Character in Action: Historicizing spontaneity: the illusion of the first time of ‘the illusion of the first time’, Cary M. Mazer; (Re:)historicizing spontaneity: original practices, Stanislavski, and characterization, Tiffany Stern; Retracing Antonio: in search of the merchant of Venice, Diego Arciniegas; Letting unpleasantness lie: counter-intuition and character in The Merchant of Venice, Brett Gamboa; Iago: in following him I follow but myself, Dan Donohue; ‘I lay with Cassio lately’: Iago’s fantasy, the actor, and audience response to Othello in 3.3, Michael W. Shurgot. Part 3 Beyond Naturalism: Then and Now: Just do it: theory and practice in acting, Eunice Roberts; Playing sodomites: gender and protean character in As You Like It, Lina Perkins Wilder; ‘Stops’ in the name of love: playing typological Iago, Travis Curtright; Henry V’s character conflict, James Wells; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Editor: Yu Jin Ko, is Professor of English at Wellesley College, USA. Michael W. Shurgot is Professor of Humanities at South Puget Sound Community College, USA.
  • Reviews: 'One of the collection’s strongest features is its organization […] which makes the collection feel like a unified whole, a rarity in books of essays. Particularly effective is the ‘conversation’ between Cary Mazer and Tiffany Stern in their respective pieces concerning historicizing spontaneity… Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, professionals.' Choice

    'The book offers a series of different perspectives on the complex relationships, between two of Shakespeare’s most compelling characters.' The Shakespeare Blog

    ‘Investigating the relationship between actor and character, between actor and audience, and between characters in plays, these essays speak to one another in interesting ways and engage in an ongoing conversation about Shakespearean character that marries theory with theater practice. The collection will be of interest to Shakespeare critics, scholars of performance criticism, and theater professionals.’ RQ Winter

    'The virtues of this volume are many … This dialogue is not serendipitous, but a result of editorial care. The essays also demonstrate that academic prose can be smart, stimulating, and pleasurable; that scholarly debates can be passionate but civil; and above all, that character-based approaches are integral to our engagement with Shakespearean selves in a postmodern world.'
    16th Century Journal