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Title: The production of early modern dramatic space : practices, places and perceptions
Author: Benson, Simon
ISNI:       0000 0004 2690 5019
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 2010
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From the introduction:This dissertation explores the nature and development of dramatic space in early modern England. Arguing that essential to its quality and character was the early modern player’s ability to produce highly creative and productive spatial textures and experiences, this dissertation examines some of the shifting attitudes to and uses of space from ca. 1516 (the date of publication of Thomas More’s Utopia) to the first decade of the 17th century for what they reveal about the spatial economies that common playing responded to, participated in, developed and sustained. The theoretical basis for the work draws from the phenomenological philosophy of Lefebvre, de Certeau, Merleau-Ponty and Derrida – all of whom offer different but complementary ways of recognising the instrumental role of primordial experience (as opposed to the forms of intellectualised knowledge through which experience is subsequently organised and mediated) in the production of meaning. For Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks, recognizing space as the product of experience is the necessary first step toward opening up the creative approaches necessary for recontextualising the past. Rather than approaching the past looking for ‘things’ to collect and curate, Pearson and Shanks engage with it as an embodied field, wandering through it as one would a landscape, noting its various identities, instabilities and its constantly shifting textures. Their highly spatial and spatialising approaches take account of what is lost when we engage with the past solely (or even largely) through texts (and the discourses texts sustain), and they argue for stories (plural) about the past rather than the production of single, dominant and authorising texts on it. Similarly, Michel de Certeau, asserting the value of the knowledge that is derived from stories, argues for a theory of narration in relation to practices and the spaces practices produce – for de Certeau, stories (plural) cannot be reduced to a single meaning, they ‘are not about movement, they make movements, not objects but effects, they transform, they do exactly what they say they do […] they bring invisible geographies into contact with the ordered realm of the rational’ (italics original). In seeking to describe and account for the ephemeral and elusive nature of early modern dramatic space, this dissertation recognises the impossibility of such a task (of translating primordial experience into language). However, by taking into account some of the spatial transactions and exchanges that early modern dramatic production participated in, the story told here attempts to make visible a normally invisible geography by pointing out those logics of practice (‘the ordered realm of the rational’) through which that geography is/was produced.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Drama