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Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics$
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Thomas P. Anderson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697342

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697342.001.0001

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Body Politics and the Non-Sovereign Exception in Titus Andronicus and the Winter’s Tale

Body Politics and the Non-Sovereign Exception in Titus Andronicus and the Winter’s Tale

(p.139) Chapter 5 Body Politics and the Non-Sovereign Exception in Titus Andronicus and the Winter’s Tale
Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics

Thomas P. Anderson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter looks at The Winter’s Tale and Titus Andronicus to show how Shakespeare’s aesthetics integrates performing objects and performing bodies in its depiction of powerful women. In staging the process of survival for Lavinia and Hermione, Shakespeare travesties the concept of the king’s two bodies central to early modern sovereignty, redistributing agency between subjects to objects. Central to the argument about the female body in these two plays is Elizabeth Grosz’s concept of corporeal femininity, which emphasizes the tactility of the performing body, its agitating power that poses problems for the way these plays and their critics attempt to make sense of the women’s physical condition as an embodiment of fractured or incomplete subjectivity. Julie Taymor’s film Titus (2000), with its cinematic expression of the power of the prosthetic, becomes a touchstone for a reading of the play’s exploration of the politics of vibrant matter. Both Lavinia and Hermione offer a form of corporeal feminism, exemplified in Taymor’s film. In their parody of sovereignty’s charismatic survival beyond death, these two plays to different degrees transform political theology into a feminist politics in which performing objects—Lavinia’s body and Hermione’s statue—evoke the phenomenon of non-sovereign agency that limits sovereign absolutism and enables fugitive politics in Shakespeare.

Keywords:   feminist politics, Elizabeth Grosz, Jane Bennett, vibrant matter, female body, Julie Taymor, Titus, non-sovereign agency

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