9. Shakespeare's Comic Geographies
Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr.
This chapter focuses on specific Shakespearean geographies as they intersect with and illuminate key aspects of early modern culture. As considered here, geography is less a description of the physical landscapes and cultures of a particular region than a conceptual structure through which social and spatial relations are simultaneously materialized and represented, often in an idealized manner. In that different conceptual structures emerge at different times, geography is historical; in that more than one such structure obtains at any given moment, geography is multiple, most accurately referred to as “geographies.” With Shakespeare's plays, geographies are also literary, and this chapter examines the ways in which the poetic geographies of the comedies are indebted to and emerge out of both literary and sociohistorical imperatives. The chapter first considers the comedies in light of what are commonly called the old and new geographies, then takes up the two critical schools that have dominated the study of geography in Shakespeare. After next discussing the importance of the ancient notion of the oikumene to Shakespearean comedy, the chapter analyzes three geographies central to a number of the comedies, those of hospitality, paternity, and flight. In doing so, it works to isolate some of what we might call the deep geographic structures of Shakespearean comedy. In the last ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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