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The Shakespearean Unscene

Shakespeare Lecture, delivered by Professor Lorna Hutson, on 12 May 2016 (venue: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, London). 

Shakespeare Lecture, delivered by Professor Lorna Hutson, on 12 May 2016 (venue: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, London). Today, metaphors of enactment dominate discussion of Shakespeare. We talk about ‘staging’ and ‘performing’ abstractions: ‘staging history’, for example, or ‘performing nostalgia’. Critics have thus even made a conundrum of the fact that Hamlet ‘stages’ the process of ‘thought’. This lecture will show, conversely, that in the sixteenth century, the real innovation in English theatre was less performative than rhetorical. Influenced by neoclassicism, English dramatists began to use techniques of rhetorical inquiry to supplement theatre’s mis-en-scène. Shakespeare irresistably draws us into imagining offstage ‘scenes’ as part of a drama of the psyche: this is the seductive Shakespearean ‘unscene’.

About the speaker:
Lorna Hutson is Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews and will be Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford from September 2016. Her books include Thomas Nashe in Context (1989), The Usurer’s Daughter (1994), The Invention of Suspicion (2007), and Circumstantial Shakespeare (2015).

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