Yearling, R (2018) Emotion, cognition and spectator response to the plays of Shakespeare. Cultural History, 7 (2). pp. 129-144. ISSN 2045-2918

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Recapturing what early modern spectators thought and felt when attending the theatre has for some years been a kind of Holy Grail for scholars of Renaissance drama. As Myhill and Low point out in Imagining the Audience in Early Modern Drama (2011), although we now know a great deal about the material conditions of early modern theatre and theatre-going, the actual intellectual and emotional experience of spectators ‘has proved remarkably resistant to examination.’ This article discusses some of the strategies that previous critics have employed in the attempt to rediscover what it felt like to be an early modern spectator, and then proceeds to suggest a new approach to this problem, which aims to acknowledge more fully the ways in which spectator response to drama can be multiple, unpredictable and unstable, shaped as it is by a wide variety of factors such as the play's cultural contexts, its dramatic architecture, and its linguistic registers. I will then show how this approach might work in practice through an examination of the figure of Lavinia in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, considering particularly how spectators might have responded to her role in the play's final revenge plot. Here, I will explore some of the frames of reference that early modern spectators might have brought to bear on their understanding of Lavinia and her role as revenger, and how these frames might have affected their emotional responses to the character, examining some contemporary responses to classical tales of female revengers; the treatment of rape victims in other drama of the period; and contemporary attitudes towards female anger and violence.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Edinburgh University Press - at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Shakespeare, drama, emotion, cognition
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2018 13:33
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2018 09:28

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