Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama

Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama

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This collection of essays studies the material, economic and dramatic roles played by stage properties in early modern English drama. Often, the received wisdom about the commercial stage in Shakespeare's time is that it was a bare one, uncluttered by objects. Staged Properties offers a critique of this view. The volume offers valuable evidence and insight into the modes of production, circulation and exchange that brought such properties as sacred garments, household furnishings, pawned objects and even false beards on to the stage. Departing from previous scholarship which has mainly focused solely on the symbolic or iconographic aspects of props, these essays explore their material dimensions, and in particular, their status as a special form of property. The volume reflects upon what the material history of stage props may tell us about the changing demographics, modes of production and consumption, and notions of property that contributed to the rise of the commercial theatre in London.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 358 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 24mm | 700g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521813220
  • 9780521813228

Table of contents

List of illustrations; Notes on contributors; 1. Introduction: towards a materialist account of stage properties Jonathan Gil Harris and Natasha Korda; Part I. Histories: 2. Properties of skill: product placement in early English artisanal drama Jonathan Gil Harris; 3. The dramatic life of objects in the early modern theatre Douglas Bruster; Part II. Furniture: 4. Things with little social life (Henslowe's theatrical properties and Elizabethan household fittings) Lena Cowen Orlin; 5. Properties of domestic life: the table in Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness Catherine Richardson; 6. 'Let me the curtains draw': the dramatic and symbolic properties of the bed in Shakespearean tragedy Sasha Roberts; Part III. Costumes: 7. Properties in clothes: the materials of the Renaissance theatre Peter Stallybrass; 8. Women's theatrical properties Natasha Korda; 9. Staging the beard: masculinity in early modern English culture Will Fisher; Part IV. Hand Properties: 10. Properties of marriage: proprietary conflict and the calculus of gender in Epicoene Juana Green; 11. The woman's parts of Cymbeline Valerie Wayne; 12. Wonder-effects: Othello's handkerchief Paul Yachnin; Appendix; Index.
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Review quote

'... splendid collection ...' The Times Literary Supplement 'For anyone who thought the early modern actor stood in a 'wooden O', this book is a must.' Journal of New Theatre Quarterly "[T]he collection makes a valuable contribution to the study of early modern drama and to an understanding of the uses and variety of materialist methodologies. Not only are the methodologies set out clearly, but their use in specific instances provides helpful models for those who are pursuing similar lines of research." M.G. Aune, North Dakota State University, Sixteenth Century Journal "An outstanding anthology which achieves a newly energized convergence between cultural materialism and theater/performance history. [...] The book's rich essays develop a range of possible materialist engagements with the materiality of stage properties." Studies in English Literature "Staged Properties in Early Modern English is a truly excellent anthology, one that delivers on its promised aims, and I can guarantee that its readers will learn a great deal from the essays."
Peter C. Herman, Comparative Drama
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About Mr. Jonathan Gil Harris

Jonathan Gil Harris is Associate Professor of English at Ithaca College. He is the author of Foreign Bodies and the Body Politic: Discourses of Social Pathology in Early Modern England, (1998), as well as numerous articles on Renaissance drama and culture. Natasha Korda is author of Shakespeare's Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England, (2002) and numerous essays on early modern drama and stage history. She is Associate Professor of English at Wesleyan University.
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