“To Stride a Limit”: <i>Imperium</i>, Crisis, and Accommodation in Shakespeare's <i>Cymbeline</i> and <i>Pericles</i>

Bradin Cormack

in A Power to Do Justice

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780226116242
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226116259 | DOI:
“To Stride a Limit”: Imperium, Crisis, and Accommodation in Shakespeare's Cymbeline and Pericles

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Focusing on William Shakespeare's Pericles (1609) and Cymbeline (ca. 1610), this chapter explores a virtual jurisdiction constitutive of empire. Shakespearean romantic tragicomedy emerges here as an extended engagement with the idea of jurisdiction as it came under pressure in consequence, first, of the union of the Scottish and English Crowns in 1603, and, second, of the changing status of the ocean as an international space of trade. Shakespeare's plays belong to a moment when transnational authority was imagined as the legal effect not of dominium (ownership) but of imperium, a jurisdictional relationship and process. Accordingly, the chapter argues that they engage the scene of international politics by taking up the shape of jurisdictional crisis itself. Pericles and Cymbeline reach toward a theoretical account of the jurisdictional principle they thematize, at the same time as they represent a deterritorialization of legal identity that transforms jurisdiction into a principle to serve a new kind of power.

Keywords: William Shakespeare; Pericles; plays; Cymbeline; jurisdiction; tragicomedy; transnational authority; imperium; international politics; jurisdictional crisis

Chapter.  24985 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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