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Reviews21 7 seifand wife is reasserted. Nevertheless, one cannot but admire Lope for setting forth these issues in a work that is very nearly a wife-murder play. Roberts. Stone U.S. Naval Academy Egginton, William. How the World Became a Stage. Albany: State University ofNew York Press, 2003. 208 pp. William Egginton's How the World Became a Stage places theater at the center ofan ambitious theoretical discussion, two ofthe main goals of which are to "argue that the vocabulary of subjectivity is inadequate to the expectations placed upon it and to replace that vocabulary with a new one" (3). Proving the inadequacy of Foucault's, and to a certain degree Heidegger's, uses ofsubjectivity, as well as those ofgenerations ofscholars in their wake, and affirming the merit of using instead his terms, theatricality andpresence, is a tough project, as the author himselfacknowledges . Nevertheless, Egginton confidently guides his reader to three exemplary dramatic works from within a broad swath of Western European culture, the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, that treat the engaging legend of Saint Genesius, patron saint of actors. His project is an attempt to "reveal the spatiality ofthe modern age" (135) and the theatrical model of the self "simultaneously virtual and corporeal" (31) embedded, but not previously articulated, in contemporary critical theory · Egginton brings together French and Spanish drama, comparing works by Jean Rotrou and Lope de Vega as well as a fifteenth-century French mystery play on the same theme, in order to demonstrate a common shift between medieval and modern modes ofbeing. Medieval spectacle relied upon a full space imbued with magical presence, and "by presence I refer to that experience of space that subtends such diverse experiences as the participation in a ritual invocation of the seasons, certain shamanistic cures, "voodoo death," and the miracle of transubstantiation" (3). Our modern age—we have not yet arrived at the postmodern Egginton proposes —is characterized by theatricality. Theatricality is an incorporeal experience of"an imaginary configuration of interrupted space and time" 218BCom, Vol. 57, No. 1 (2005) (73), an "avatar" mode ofbeing evident in early modern drama that continues to determine our experience of subjectivity. The question of how a "virtual," incorporeal self existent at the level ofthe imagination is significantly different from metaphysical notions of the soul or its scientific mind/body conceptualization, consciousness, is not addressed in this book. The fact that theatricality defined as "interrupted space and time" seems rather indistinguishable from a notion of literature proposed by Foucault, that "unbridled critic of modernity" (148) discussed in relation to Don Quixote, is mentioned only at the very end of the work, when Egginton explains that Cervantes's novel is "fictional in that it puts into written form the spatiality characteristic of the theater" (163). Although declaring his argument does not involve efficient causes of phenomena (77), as a critic who identifies himself as a cultural historian (29), he might mention that Lope's Arte nuevo and Lo fingido verdadero, two texts which partake of theatricality in his argument , were produced just after the publication of the first part of the Quixote. One could argue that this same consciousness oftheatricality (or fictionality) is by no means genre bound, but had been in the air since at least Castiglione's Courtier, continued through the confessional constructions of the self found in Lazarillo and Teresa de Jesus's Vida, and was manifested in radical form in Gracian's Oráculo manual. The strongest portion of this book is Egginton's careful delineation of the various disciplinary genealogies ofthe term "subject." Yet ultimately his reader is left with the question ofwhat we achieve by alleging that the vocabulary of subjectivity has been ineffective in thinking about political agency. Egginton suggests we "leave the notion ofsubjectivity entirely to psychoanalysis"(151), by which he means specifically Lacan, because there it has a stable and unambiguous meaning. At the end of his text he playfully imagines a virtual future in which there might be freedom from "any anchor in the physical" (168). When theatricality, as well as Egginton's novel and interesting conception ofthe repository ofpresence, the crypt, shed their critical light on contemporary experiences of visual culture, from snuff...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 217-219
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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