By enlisting material objects in the service of ideology critique, materialist criticism tends to dematerialize solid objects whose historical trajectories have been lost to performed memory (kinamnesia). A diachronic reading of Richard II’s crown models how materialist criticism can reconstruct the ways that mobile physical objects set unstable, politicized meanings in motion at different levels of analysis. In addition to such elusive material stuff, theatre is made up of dark matter: an invisible dimension that evades detection, even though its effects are palpable in performance. Macbeth’s dagger is not there onstage, but it is not not there either. Dark matter resists semiotic and materialist analysis because it sheds no visible light. Detecting dark matter—offstage spaces and actions; absent characters; the narrated past; hallucination; blindness; obscenity; godhead; and so on—invites a new approach known as spectral reading. Both visible and dark objects matter in performance, but they matter in ways that demand distinct critical vocabularies.


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pp. 323-336
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