Kathy M. Howlett
Francis C. Blessington (1942-), Marina Leslie
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. English Department.
William Shakespeare, English Literature, Plague, Trauma, Disease
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Plague--Social aspects, Literature and society
Literature in English, British Isles
This dissertation investigates what Shakespeare's drama seems to do with the anxieties and fantasies attendant upon the early modern plague experience. At times, it seems, the plague exerts its presence in its absence, at others, the plague seems to saturate every aspect of the plays' fictive worlds. Moreover, my inquiry seeks to understand what kind of cultural and psychical work Shakespeare's plays performed, both for himself and for his audience members. What was it about the plague experience that compelled Shakespeare to return to it in his works, despite how devastating it was to his creative and financial prospects to remind people of the disease? And what compelled his audience members to venture into the playhouses, despite the fact that these sites were thought to be uniquely capable of spreading the disease? I am particularly interested in how the plays provide for Shakespeare and his audiences a language to know the unknowable, or communicate the unspeakable. I read the plays in concert with the hundreds of plague sermons, poems, and medical tracts that glutted the early modern print marketplace during and between outbreaks. Special attention is given to Romeo and Juliet and Coriolanus.
DeWall, Nichole, ""A plague 'o both your houses" : Shakespeare and early modern plague writing" (2008). English Dissertations. Paper 1. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d10016478
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