Article Title

The Evolution of Shakespearean Metadrama: Abel, Burckhardt, and Calderwood


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

New interpretative methodologies arrive with increasing frequency in academic circles these days, feeding a fickle appetite for changing perspectives on our old texts. Consequently, the more established forms of Shakespearean criticism have been subject to some displacement by modes of discourse based on psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, structuralism, and deconstruction-to mention only the more popular. One such new approach is that taken by a growing body of scholars who concern themselves with what they perceive to be self-reflexive themes and techniques in Shakespeare's plays.1 These critics find in Shakespeare's work a preoccupation not only with politics, religion, sexuality, ego-formation, gender, etc., but also with the materials and processes of art-making itself. They tend to view his masterpieces not simply as "windows" opening out upon a richly-textured panorama of general human experience, upon a richly-textured panorama of general human experience, but as "mirrors" reflecting the artist's ongoing struggle to understand and master the expressive potential of his medium.2 Hence, the drama in the plays becomes dislodged from plot and character and situated instead in the playwright's self-conscious interaction with himself, his medium, and his audience. With this redirection of the creative process, mimesis gives way to self-analysis, and drama is subsumed in "metadrama."

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