'Rapt in Secret Studies': Emerging Shakespeares
Editor: Darryl Chalk and Laurie Johnson
Date Of Publication: Sep 2010
“Rapt in Secret Studies”: Emerging Shakespeares is a collection of new essays in Shakespeare Studies from a generation of scholars presently emerging out of Australia and New Zealand. These 18 essays respond in a myriad of ways to the challenge of Prospero’s phrase from The Tempest, in which he tells his daughter Miranda that in his life before the island he had been “rapt in secret studies”—to an early modern audience, these words were likely to mean much more than a predilection for the black arts, as modern audiences tend to hear in them. Each of the key words used by Prospero evoked a range of meanings in early modern times, to which the emerging scholars represented in this collection responded by imagining new pathways in Shakespeare Studies, a field of study that has in recent times risked being marginalised even within the traditional liberal arts. The “secret studies” of which Prospero speaks are, in fact, more liberal than dark, and so the response by new scholars to a challenge issued by one of Shakespeare’s characters more than four centuries ago has a renewed sense of relevance in the academy today.
The essays are divided into three sections, each of which is oriented toward meanings that are specifically associated with one of the key terms in Prospero’s phrase. The “rapt” section has essays concerned with excess in its various forms—jealousy, obsession, sex, violence, and even death—as well as with travel and its impact on ways of knowing about the world. In the “secret” section, the nature of things about which the early modern could scarcely speak are taken into consideration, with essays on prevailing early modern myths, infidelities, stillborn children, contagion, and the instruments of secrecy such as gossip and spies. Finally, in the “study” section, essays cover issues related both to early modern textual practice—the use of historical source materials in Shakespeare’s writing, questions of multiple authorship, and the issue of early modern style and kinds of drama—and to more modern scholarly practice, such as the role of Shakespeare in the New Bibliography and the New Historicism.
Darryl Chalk is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies and a member of the Public Memory Research Centre at the University of Southern Queensland. His work on connections between contagion and theatricality in Shakespearean drama and early modern culture has been published in Early Modern Literary Studies and in edited collections.
Laurie Johnson is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Studies and a member of the Public Memory Research Centre at the University of Southern Queensland. He is author of The Wolf Man’s Burden (Cornell University Press, 2001) and articles on Cultural Theory, Cyber Studies, Early Modern Studies, Ethics, Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis and related fields.
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Sample pdf (including Table of Contents)