In our own age, the engagement with death has been discretely narrowed into a brief process of formal commemoration and burial, but in Shakespeare's time it was ritualized into the very fabric of everyday life, where the reminders of death, the journey to the grave, and the moment of expiry were all central to the cultural engagement with mortality in post-Reformation England. Inevitably, this way of seeing the world impacted the writing of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, not only in relation to the intellectual content of the drama but with regard to its visual impressions as well. Emblems of Mortality explores the relationship between Shakespeare's theatre and popular memento mori and funereal iconography of the Renaissance, combining cultural studies and historicism with semiotic analysis of period iconography. Through close reading of Elizabethan signs and sign systems with attention to historical context, the work seeks to demonstrate the quality and intention of some of Shakespeare's theatrical designs in a way that will appeal to scholars of drama and students of Shakespeare's work.
Emblems of Mortality
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