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534Comparative Drama signifiers suggesting characters ofvarious types or in various situations, and if so the actor, "through dialogue, properties, costume, or distinctive actions," might suggest "place" rather than an on-stage "place" forming a prior context for our interpretation of the entering character (e.g., a tree suggesting the Forest of Arden). Dessen's suggestion opens up the possibility of a far more fluid use of theatrical space than is generally imagined for Shakespeare, whereby characters by their very presence can bring multiple locales to the stage simultaneously (Dessen instances the Capulet indoor celebrants in Act I of Romeo and Juliet who come to the Montague street-masquers rather than the other way around: in such a case "the locale did not precede the actor; rather, the actor created or signaled the locale" [p. 148]). Occasionally Dessen's "recovery" of symbolic staging yields readings which are less fresh than the above, such as his association of Falstaff carrying away dead Hotspur with the moral-play image of Satan bearing off the Vice figure, and his noting of the visual merging of sick-chairs and thrones in the Second Tetralogy. But these comments are engagingly interwoven with newer staging interpretations and contextualized by an important and original thesis. An occasional reading strained to support that thesis—e.g., that Titus Andronicus' Tamora, disguised as Revenge, actually does represent Revenge for the Renaissance audience (why then does she mention her disguise?)—is rendered acceptable by the speculative tone Dessen maintains throughout his book. Indeed, so open-ended and speculative is Dessen that the reader becomes frustrated, wanting answers about what Shakespeare actually did put on stage, until she recognizes that Dessen's refusal to claim absolute knowledge on this score is his book's great strength. More valuable than definitive conclusions is the range of staging possibilities he offers for readers and directors of Shakespeare, for he thus opens up new ways to think about stage action and provides sound reasons to think in those ways. GRACE TIFFANY Western Michigan University Moe Meyer, ed. The Politics and Poetics of Camp. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. Pp. xiii + 203. $59.95 (casebound); $16.95 (paperbound). The Politics and Poetics of Camp presents itself as an "intervention " in an emerging debate within gay and lesbian studies. Although focusing on subjects ranging from late-seventeenth-century gestural codes to "dyke noir" fiction of the late 1980's, the essays in this collection center on shared theoretical and political questions. Deriving from feminist theory, cultural criticism, and post-structuralist Reviews535 accounts of the subject, these essays set out to investigate the relationship between performativity and sexual and social identity. Their theoretical analyses are supplemented throughout by detailed considerations of various theatrical and textual practices and the historical and cultural contexts of their performance. The essays in The Politics and Poetics of Camp are united by a number of shared premises that are explicated in Moe Meyer's polemical introduction, which also lays the foundation for the model of performativity developed throughout the book. A redefinition of 'camp' is central to this project. Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp" (1964) popularized the notion that camp was both a sensibility and a quality inhering in particular objects or gestures. In subsequent years, 'camp' has been alternately dissociated from gay culture and conflated with it. The term has been employed dismissively to connote frivolity, decadence, or cooptation and applied to works and aesthetics characterized as politically radical and culturally subversive. Among other matters, this volume attempts to clarify the uses of 'camp' and to distinguish between "queer" camp and "unqueer" uses or "appropriations" of camp. Meyer defines camp "as the total body of performative practices and strategies used to enact a queer identity" (p. 5). "Queer," it must be noted, is not used simply as a hip synonym for "gay, lesbian, and bisexual " but as an alternative to normative or essentialist definitions of gay and lesbian identity—and more broadly in opposition to "the depth model of identity" (p. 3). Where the self is traditionally seen as a stable core of identity, "unique, abiding, and continuous," the "queer self is "performative, improvisational, discontinuous, and processually constituted by repetitive...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 534-537
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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