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The Third Citizen

Shakespeare's Theater and the Early Modern House of Commons

Oliver Arnold

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The new practices and theories of parliamentary representation that emerged during Elizabeth's and James' reigns shattered the unity of human agency, redefined the nature of power, transformed the image of the body politic, and unsettled constructs and concepts as fundamental as the relation between presence and absence.

In The Third Citizen, Oliver Arnold argues that recovering the formation of political representation as an effective ideology should radically change our understanding of early modern political culture, Shakespeare's political art, and the way Anglo-American critics, for whom…

The new practices and theories of parliamentary representation that emerged during Elizabeth's and James' reigns shattered the unity of human agency, redefined the nature of power, transformed the image of the body politic, and unsettled constructs and concepts as fundamental as the relation between presence and absence.

In The Third Citizen, Oliver Arnold argues that recovering the formation of political representation as an effective ideology should radically change our understanding of early modern political culture, Shakespeare's political art, and the way Anglo-American critics, for whom representative democracy is second nature, construe both. In magisterial readings of Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and the First Tetralogy, Arnold discovers a new Shakespeare who was neither a conservative apologist for monarchy nor a prescient, liberal champion of the House of Commons but instead a radical thinker and artist who demystified the ideology of political representation in the moment of its first flowering. Shakespeare believed that political representation produced (and required for its reproduction) a new kind of subject and a new kind of subjectivity, and he fashioned a new kind of tragedy to represent the loss of power, the fall from dignity, the false consciousness, and the grief peculiar to the experiences of representing and of being represented. Representationalism and its subject mark the beginning of political modernity; Shakespeare’s tragedies greet political representationalism with skepticism, bleakness, and despair.

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The Third Citizen

Oliver Arnold

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Reviews

Reviews

Arnold's dense book explores the fertile ground left mostly unturned by new historicist approaches of early modern politics... Brilliant and well-documented analysis of Shakespeare's 'representational plays'.

A compelling historical refinement... Recommended.

Remarkably scholarly... This seminal redrawing of power and politics in late Tudor and early Stuart England takes its authority from the tight analogies it makes between political events and governmental practice in Shakespeare's time and its detailed examination of key scenes in a half-dozen of his plays. In confronting our common assumptions of the period, it forces us to rethink our own historical beliefs.

Intelligent and important book... A bracing riposte to revisionist historians.

A superb look at Shakespearean politics.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
328
ISBN
9780801885044
Illustration Description
9 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Note on References and Abbreviations
Introduction
Part I: Parliament in Shakespeare's England
1. "An epitome of the whole realme": Absorption and Representation in the Elizabethan and

Acknowledgments
Note on References and Abbreviations
Introduction
Part I: Parliament in Shakespeare's England
1. "An epitome of the whole realme": Absorption and Representation in the Elizabethan and Jacobean House of Commons
2. Cade's Mouth: Swallowing Parliament in the First Tetralogy
Part II: Political Representation in Shakespeare's Rome
3. "Their tribune and their trust": Political Representation, Property, and Rape in Titus Andronicus and The Rape of Lucrece
4. "Caesar is turn'd to hear": Theater, Popular Dictatorship, and the Conspiracy of Republicanism in Julius Caesar
5. "Worshipful mutineers": From Demos to Electorate in Coriolanus
Epilogue: Losing Power, Losing Oneself: The Third Citizen and Tragedy
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Author Bio