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Title: Rethinking pleasure in the Shakespearean playhouse
Author: Hailes, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 5613
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2019
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This study proposes that identifiable within the plays of Shakespeare is a rethinking of pleasure that can be understood as a response to the social, cultural, political, and religious changes that marked the onset of modernity. This response, it is suggested, takes the form of: a) the foregrounding of pleasure as a central philosophical concern; and, b) an exploitation of the possibilities offered by the mid-sixteenth century birth of a marginal, professional theatre to explore and expand pleasure's forms and boundaries. Following an opening discussion on relevant critical and historical contexts, explorations of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'Hamlet', 'Twelfth Night', and 'Macbeth' are presented. These plays have been selected on the basis of the insights they offer into early modern understanding of the imagination and subjectivity – two focal points of early modern contestation that direct conceptualisations of pleasure. The discussion on 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' investigates the play's management of pleasures of the imagination, and pleasures of order. The focus then turns to pleasure's relationship with polytheism as the possibility that Dream presents an unyoking of pleasure from its ties with virtue is posited. The discussions on 'Hamlet' and 'Twelfth Night' explore how pleasure is rethought as the plays investigate the traumas and possibilities that face the subject in a changing early modern world. Interaction between pleasure and the reassessment of subjectivity that the plays present is discussed through reference to Lucretius, Copernican heliocentricity, and Montaigne. 'Macbeth' is shown to interrogate and expand the registers of pleasure within an evolution of the aesthetic. This is discussed via reference to the aestheticisation of violence, Renaissance understanding of the imagination, the aesthetic theory of Schiller, and the clash between the emergent humanist universe and the providentialist teleology central to the doctrine of election. A concluding section outlines discoveries made and points towards areas for future study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater