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The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre

Susan Zimmerman


Now available in paperback, The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre explores the relationship of the public theatre to the question of what constituted the 'dead' in early modern English culture within a theoretical framework that makes use of history, psychoanalysis and anthropology.

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Chapter 1
Dead Bodies
(theoretical introduction: Bataille, Douglas, Kristeva, Lacan, Benjamin)
Chapter 2
Body Imaging and Religious Reform: The Corpse as Idol
(historicist analysis of shifts in sacramental, iconographic, and theological imaging of the corpse from the late medieval to the early modern periods in England)
Chapter 3
Animating Matter: The Corpse as Idol in The Second Maiden's Tragedy and The Duke of Milan
(includes analysis of English public theatre)

Chapter 4
Invading the Grave: Shadow Lives in The Revenger's Tragedy
and The Duchess of Malfi
(includes analysis of English funerary customs and the practice of anatomical dissection)
Chapter 5
Killing the Dead: Duncan's Corpse and Hamlet's Ghost
Epilogue: Last Words.

About the Author

Susan Zimmerman is Professor of English at the City University of New York


...a provocative and careful study ... it is clear from Zimmerman's considerable efforts in this study that there is a lively and far-reaching cultural life in the dead bodies she considers.
- The Sixteenth Century Journal
A powerful demonstration of how Protestantism, anatomy, and drama were engaged in a struggle over the meaning to be attached to the material illuminating exposition of theories of the corpse with an historical account of its shifting outstanding project.
- Professor Peter Stallybrass, Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania
Zimmerman performs a tour de force of interpretation in this important book ... Advanced scholars will find it an indispensable contribution to the growing scholarship interrogating the significance of dead bodies on stage and page.
An ambitious project that represents a genuine extension of our understanding of the historical and theatrical contexts of these plays - Zimmerman provides a new and exciting theoretical framework in Walter Benjamin’s treatment of tragedy.
- Professor John Drakakis, Department of English Studies, University of Stirling
The considerable strengths of this book lie in its analysis of the effect of reformation ideology on the theater's representation of the corpse and Zimmerman's subtle invocation of pschoanalytic theory as a way of understanding early modern culture.
- Renaissance Quarterly
An ambitious historicist combination of anthropology, medical history, religious and folk beliefs, and literary theory and criticism.
- Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance