“Being Unseminared”: Pleasure, Instruction, and Playing the Queen in Anthony and Cleopatra

Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


Andrew Brown argues that in Anthony and Cleopatra Shakespeare draws upon humoral psychophysiology to present characters who are defined by radically expansive and generative forms of conscious experience. Perhaps more than any other play, Anthony and Cleopatra embeds its characters in networks of dramatic practice to problematize the distinction between inward reflection and the physical world. Brown illustrates this embeddedness by focusing on Mardian the eunuch and the boy actor who must have played him. Starting with the image of the eunuch’s mutilated body, he parallels the training of boy actors in the early modern professional theater with the actor’s need to assume identity and ties both to the somatic embodiment of consciousness and the distributed cognition required by early modern theatrical practice.


Seventeenth Century Conscious Experience Playing Company Liquid Humor Phenomenological Experience 
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I wish to thank Paul Yachnin, Maggie Kilgour, and the members of the Shakespeare and Performance Research Team at McGill University for their incisive and thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this study.

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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