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Four Shakespearean Period Pieces$
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Margreta de Grazia

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226785196

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226785363.001.0001

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Period Drama in the Age of World Pictures

Period Drama in the Age of World Pictures

Chapter:
(p.106) 3 Period Drama in the Age of World Pictures
Source:
Four Shakespearean Period Pieces
Author(s):

Margreta de Grazia

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226785363.003.0004

In the only picture we have of a Shakespearean play from Shakespeare’s lifetime, periodization is moot. In the Longleat drawing (ca. 1598) of Titus Andronicus, only Titus’s costume belongs to the play’s ancient setting; the attire and weaponry of the other characters are variously modern. Not until around 1800 was a Shakespearean play performed “in period”: John Philip Kemble famously staged Coriolanus with costumes, props, and scenery in sync with the play’s early Roman setting, notionally based on historical and archaeological research. While period drama marked a radical break with past productions, indifferent to historical accuracy and coherence, it was perfectly in keeping with other emergent forms of representation: the historical novel and historical painting, as well as the Kantian world picture that for Heidegger is itself the defining and exclusive feature of the modern epoch.

Keywords:   period drama, world pictures, Longleat drawing, 1800, John Phillip Kemble, Coriolanus, representation, Kant, Heidegger, modern epoch

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