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Story-Telling and Staging Romance in Shakespeare’s 'Pericles'

Wednesday 27 February 2019, 4.00PM to 6.00pm

Speaker(s): Jane Raisch (Department of English and Related Literature, University of York)

This paper will explore the relationship between ancient Greek romances (sometimes called ‘novels’) and Elizabethan theatre. With a focus on Shakespeare’s Pericles, I will consider how the play’s unorthodox strategies for presenting narrative speak to larger questions about the relationship between genre and fictionality in the early modern world. In the decades leading up to the turn of the seventeenth century, critics like Phillip Sidney had pointed out the unsuitability of romance narratives drawn from the Greek world – with their temporal and geographic expansiveness – for adaptation on the London stage. Shakespeare, in response, crafts a dramatic romance in which this implicit narrative ‘unsuitability’ becomes an explicit part of Pericles’ depiction of fictional and cultural adaptation.

“Historicising Fictionality” is a strand of the 2019 ICNS programme, Limit Narratology: Cognition and Culture, which juxtaposes the most basic form of narrative sense-making as a cognitive faculty with the cultural role of highly elaborate fictional narratives. The seminars are organised around two centres of interest: “Narrative and the Senses” considers the evocation of the senses in narrative texts as a figure or mediation of narrative sense, and the grounding of narrative cognition in embodiment and sensory experience; “Historicising Fictionality” concerns fiction as an evolving communicative and rhetorical resource, with a traceable cultural history and a principle of development located in the recursively reflexive logic of narrative discourse.


Location: Seminar Room BS/007, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Heslington West Campus