The possibility of saying in the early modern playhouses

Johnson, Laurie (2017) The possibility of saying in the early modern playhouses. Textual Practice. pp. 1-16. ISSN 0950-236X


For an ethical relation to exist between two interlocutors, according to Emmanuel Levinas, the potential for dialogue (an unimaginable future) must first exist. Levinas calls this Saying, opposed to the prescription of fixed meaning: the Said. Against the notion that a Shakespearean play text should be closed off by seeking to understand ‘what it means’ or that a performance can be measured by its fidelity to the text, each of which amounts to the Said, this essay proposes that the technologies of early modern performance open a text to the possibility of Saying. Attempts to characterise Shakespeare’s plays as either literature or theatre invariably situate key elements of early modern stagecraft (cue scripts, conventions for entrances and exits, actor extemporisation, or jigs) outside the play-as-text. The possibility of Saying is revealed through these technologies as the way the play text unfolds itself on the stage before an audience. More than merely directing or framing the action, after the manner of the Said, the early modern stage direction and the technologies of performance to which it refers are writ through the text as part of how the audience make sense of the play and engage with it.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published ver5sion cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 01:36
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 03:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: distributed cognition, Emmanuel Levinas, ethics, Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2016.1277258

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