Chapter

Dead Bodies

Susan Zimmerman

in The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare's Theatre

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780748621033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652198 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621033.003.0001
Dead Bodies

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This chapter first explores the anthropological and psychoanalytical theories of the corpse, before considering early modern concepts of its signification. It also addresses the early modern theatrical conventions in the context of Walter Benjamin's theory of the Trauerspiel. The psychoanalytical analysis of Julia Kristeva and the anthropological findings of Georges Bataille and Mary Douglas provide a compelling rationale for the identification of death with marginality, and of both with the female. The female body exerts a powerfully ambiguous attraction for the subject in which life-affirming desire is deeply inscribed with the unbecoming of death. For Benjamin, the Trauerspiel is a drama of sorrow or mourning (trauer), considered as both stage performance and game (spiel). The mystery at the core of the Trauerspiel is that of the corpse, primary signifier of the life implicit in disintegration. Lastly, an overview of the chapters included in this book is provided.

Keywords: corpse; Trauerspiel; Walter Benjamin; Julia Kristeva; Georges Bataille; Mary Douglas; female body

Chapter.  10219 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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