Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Many others have stood behind the scenes to give encouragement, advice, perspective, and insight to the ideas and arguments that follow. I am grateful to Clark Hulse for zeroing in on the single chapter in my dissertation that I had slated to study the offstage and for persuading me to refocus the entire fledgling project on palpable but unseen phenomena in Renaissance drama. Mary Beth Rose encouraged the project from early on, and she has been a source of support throughout the extensive process of writing the book. In addition to their support, their judicious criticisms have significantly influenced my thinking...

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A Note on Texts

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pp. xiii-xiv

Premodern typographical features such as nonstandardized spellings, page layouts, and press-exigent irregularities retain traces of their material production, yet they also foreground how the production of literary meaning is always embedded within particular material conditions. A central preoccupation of this book, material conditions slow the observer down and estrange sometimes familiar dramatic moments when they appear in their earliest textual environments. My quotations of early texts therefore preserve many of their typographical features, while also acknowledging that they...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xvi

In Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater, Robert Weimann argues that the English Renaissance stage inherited from native performance practices a complex and informally coded dialectic of theatrical space. In medieval playing the locus, which produced “a heightened level of mimetic representation,” exemplified the space of the dramatic fiction, whereas the platea “provided an entirely nonrepresentational and unlocalized setting,” which was more adjacent to and sometimes even coincided with the space of those gathered to observe and hear that dramatic fiction.1 As he cautions,...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

When the Venetian Duke demands a response to Brabantio’s accusation of witchcraft, Othello tells him a story. “Rude am I, in my speech,” Othello warns, “And little bless’d with the soft phrase of Peace,” but “I will a round vn-varnish’d Tale deliuer.”1 Unvarnished or not, his tale is indeed multilayered, recounting the scene of Brabantio’s invitation to tell it in the first place as well as how hearing parcels of it had sparked Desdemona’s desire and request to hear this tale, too. At the center of these storytelling occasions—first before Brabantio, then Desdemona, and now the Duke—lies what Othello calls “my...

Part I. The Offstage in Theory and Practice

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pp. 21-22

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Chapter 1. Scene Individable, or Poem Unlimited: Premodern Theories of the Dramatic Mode

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pp. 23-48

In a short footnote to a discussion of theatrical transvestism in classical Greek drama, Froma I. Zeitlin writes: “We may remember that obscene, ob-scaenum, in its usual etymology, means ‘off stage,’ i.e., off the ‘serious’ stage.”1 Without pursuing the matter any further, she suggests here that obscaenum is etymologically linked with the unseen sights of the offstage, yet in the same breath she associates the word with Greek distinctions in theatrical forms, which judge tragic subjects to be more serious than comic ones: “comedy,” as Aristotle says, “is an imitation of baser men.”2 In the quasi-classical Athens of A MIDSOMMER Nights Dreame dwells a group of artisans whom...

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Chapter 2. The Narrative Economy of Social Commerce

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pp. 49-96

The “conflicting claims of the imaginary and the real,” Hayden White suggests, “are mediated, arbitrated, or resolved” under the aegis of narrativity and through the act of storytelling. Because “our desire for the imaginary, the possible, must contest with the imperatives of the real, the actual,”1 we tend to use narrative as one instrument for tailoring our desires to the constraints of living—to the demands of social and material realities—but also for bending those realities toward the heights of our imaginations. Narrative enables us, in other words, to script ourselves into lived situations that would...

Part II. The Offstage in Amphitheaters and Texts

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pp. 97-98

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Chapter 3. Cleaving the General Ear

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pp. 99-140

In the previous chapter we saw onstage storytellers using an array of rhetorical tactics to persuade audiences of the veracity of their narratives. There, I emphasized that stories about offstage episodes are rhetorical in form and function because characters consciously select the material for their narratives (inventio), they arrange that material into a credible series of events (dispositio), and they transform the social relations within the drama through their eloquence, presence of mind, and verbal performances (eloquentia, memoria, pronuntiatio).1 I have argued that the power that stories exert over their...

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Chapter 4. Didascalic Space in Early Modern Printed Drama

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pp. 141-166

John Marston’s THE MALCONTENT opens with “The vilest out of tune Musicke being heard,” which emanates, Bilioso tells Duke Pietro, “from the | Malecontent Maleuoles chamber,” located somewhere offstage.1 Ferrardo, “A Minion to Duke Pietro,” calls to the disguised and “sometime | Duke of Genoa” (“Dramatis personæ,” A2v): “Maleuole,” as if to demand an explanation for the “discord rather then the Musique” that offends Pietro’s ears (B1r). Malevole then responds:...

Notes

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pp. 167-196

Bibliography

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pp. 197-214

Index

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pp. 215-218