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Shakespearean MaternitiesCrises of Conception in Early Modern England$
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Chris Laoutaris

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748624362

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748624362.001.0001

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Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in the Theatre of Death

Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in the Theatre of Death

(p.212) Chapter 4 Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in the Theatre of Death
Shakespearean Maternities

Chris Laoutaris

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses that the age of Shakespeare gave rise to a poignant language of maternal memory. It explains the enigma of the specifically maternalised cast of the memorials which followed the appearance of the Elizabeth Russell monument. It also shows the way in which Shakespeare's play dramatises the conflict between already entrenched and emergent modes of memorialisation. Russell's ghost is not confined to the half-lit rooms of Bisham Abbey where she is said to roam, but also haunts the maternal tombs which were erected in imitation of her daughter's monument. The performance of maternity in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is then detailed. Antony and Cleopatra encloses what was a new epistemological culture of memorialisation. Cleopatra's ending recapitulates the ‘good death’ of the Renaissance mother as it was reconceived by those women whose legacies are ours to cherish today.

Keywords:   maternal memory, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Russell, memorialisation, Antony, Cleopatra, Renaissance mother

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