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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The imprints of performance : editorial mediations of Shakespeare's drama Paul, Joseph Gavin


The Imprints of Performance is motivated by a longstanding interest in the fundamental interpretive challenges that face readers of printed plays. Reading a playtext is a means of dramatic realization that is absolutely unlike live performance, and it is not without good reason that theoretical formulations of page and stage tend to stress the incompatibility of the two modes. Without denying that printed plays distort and fragment performance practice, my dissertation negotiates an intractable debate by shifting attention to points of intersection in the rich printed and performance histories of Shakespeare's plays. I detail how editors of Shakespeare encode for information that could otherwise only be communicated in performance, how, via ancillaries such as critical introductions, emended stage directions, and performance commentary, editors facilitate a reader's ability to imagine performances. Central to my engagements with the informational structures of the edited page is the term performancescape, a textual representation of performance potential that gives relative shape and stability to what is dynamic and multifarious. I deploy performancescape in relation to editions ranging from the earliest extant quartos and folios to digital editions powered by hypertext. In analyzing formative editions from Shakespeare's long textual history, I highlight instances where the malleability of the printed page renders awareness of performance an integral, and in some ways unavoidable, condition of the reading experience.

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