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Palgrave Macmillan

Shakespeare and the Imprints of Performance

  • Book
  • © 2014


  • Examines how textual distortions enrich a play's performance possibilities
  • Explores how the term performancescape can re-negotiate the page/stage polarity
  • Features analysis of performance commentary, critical editions, formative eighteenth-century editions, and early modern paratexts such as title-pages, dedications, and printers' prefaces

Part of the book series: History of Text Technologies (HTT)

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About this book

Within the study of drama, the question of how to relate text and performance—and what interpretive tools are best suited to analyzing them—is a longstanding and contentious one. Most scholars agree that reading a printed play is a means of dramatic realization absolutely unlike live performance, but everything else beyond this premise is contestable: how much authority to assign to playwrights, the extent to which texts and readings determine performance, and the capability of printed plays to communicate the possibilities of performance. Without denying that printed plays distort and fragment performance practice, this book negotiates an intractable debate by shifting attention to the ways in which these inevitable distortions can nevertheless enrich a reader's awareness of a play's performance potentialities. As author J. Gavin Paul demonstrates, printed plays can be more meaningfully engaged with actual performance than is typically assumed, via specific editorial principles andstrategies. Focusing on the long history of Shakespearean editing, he develops the concept of the performancescape: a textual representation of performance potential that gives relative shape and stability to what is dynamic and multifarious.


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Table of contents (6 chapters)


“Shakespeare and the Imprints of Performance is scholarly and nicely conscientious. Paul engages thoroughly with a wide range of critics, perhaps sometimes with a slight PhD dutifulness. … He has written a book of real interest and insight, which, appropriately, reveals its own intellectual imprints and gives scope for further interpretative scholarship.” (Emma Smith, Shakespeare, 2016)

About the author

J. Gavin Paul is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University, Canada. His work has appeared in Shakespeare: The Journal of the British Shakespeare Association, The Review of English Studies, and other publications, and his doctoral dissertation won the prestigious J. Leeds Barroll Prize from the Shakespeare Association of America in 2009.

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