How might A Midsummer Night’s Dream offer a way past the reductive stage-page divide that stubbornly persists in early modern drama studies? Dream’s playful inquiry into “shaping fantasies” and that which enacts them is far more capacious than poets’ pens and the “local habitations” they enact in the theater. We have also to contend with actors literally enacting stage properties, unwieldy children playing musical fairies, even an objectified yet incorporeal changeling boy at the crux of the plot. I propose that the broader array of signifying objects in this metatheatrical play can be conceived as media, that is, as physical conduits for information that become meaningful precisely insofar as they evanesce and disappear. This outlook helps us move beyond a binary between ephemeral performance and material text, and, in turn, the segmentation of book history and performance studies.
About the Speaker
Scott Trudell is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland. He specializes in early modern literature, music, and media theory. His current project focuses on song, mediation and poiesis from Sidney to Shakespeare to Jonson to Milton.