Panel 16: Shakespeare and Architecture

Schedule / Horaire

Thursday 24 April 2014, 11h-12h30.

Room: L109.

Leader / Organisateur

Roy Eriksen (Norway)

Participants

  1. Michael Alijewicz, Queen’s University Belfast (Ireland)
    Birnam Wood Moves on the Stage: Reading Probability and Architecture in Macbeth
  2. Lois Leveen (USA)
    Putting the ‘Where’ into ‘Wherefore Art Thou’: Urban Architectures of Desire in Romeo and Juliet
  3. Muriel Cunin, Université de Limoges (France)
    Shakespeare, Architecture and Privacy
  4. Melissa Auclair, University of Toronto (Canada)
    Coming into the Closet: Spatial Practices and Imagined Space in Shakespeare’s Plays

Abstracts / Résumés

1. Michael Alijewicz, Queen’s University Belfast (Ireland)
Birnam Wood Moves on the Stage: Reading Probability and Architecture in Macbeth

This paper demonstrates how early modern architectural plots throw relief on the ghostly umbra in Macbeth’s staging. Comparing architectural designs to the play draws out the visual multiplicity Macbeth’s performance and in turn, the play reveals that early modern architecture’s ostensibly clean lines actually blur in a range between conditional language and visual image. Framed in this way, planning necessarily becomes a multimedia visual-narrative form. A critical payoff of this analysis is that sensitive readings of probability become necessary in order to grasp urban spaces. Physical structures matter, but the potential contained in plans and edifices also influences Shakespearean performance.

2. Lois Leveen (USA)
Putting the ‘Where’ into ‘Wherefore Art Thou’: Urban Architectures of Desire in Romeo and Juliet

Act II, scene ii of Romeo and Juliet is the most famous scene in Shakespeare, and perhaps all of English-language drama. But the vernacular popularity of ‘the balcony scene’ is complicated by the fact that not only is there no balcony in the play, there was no balcony per se in all of Shakespeare’s England. Drawing on architectural history, this paper examines the spatial and textual lacuna of Juliet’s balcony as a locus for emerging intersections of gender, desire, and the tensions between privacy and public display in the Renaissance city.

3. Muriel Cunin, Université de Limoges (France)
Shakespeare, Architecture and Privacy

The notion of early modern privacy has been much debated in recent years. Scholars like Philippe Ariès, Mark Girouard, William Hoskins or Alice Friedman relate architectural innovations to a new search for privacy. Cultural materialism provides a fresh perspective on these issues. Lena Orlin in particular questions “the notion that personal privacy is something desirable” (Locating Privacy in Tudor London, OUP, 2007, p. 9). Bearing what precedes in mind, I would like to examine a few examples taken from Shakespeare’s plays to see how he relates house, domesticity, surveillance and the division of spaces between public and private.

4. Melissa Auclair, University of Toronto (Canada)
Coming into the Closet: Spatial Practices and Imagined Space in Shakespeare’s Plays

This paper explores how early modern masculinity faces the emergent space of the closet, whose space for the public figure undermines his authority, yet must nevertheless be defended like a kingdom. By considering a selection of Shakespeare’s histories and comedies, I interrogate how specific spaces make new types of behaviour possible. This is architecture without architecture: on stage, how do individuals ‘act out’ a space when none of its physical features are present? How does this space define the characters’ behaviour? Finally, how do changes in the space of a home change the individual’s relationship to their larger public world?

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