Ágnes Matuska

E-mail address: magnes@lit.u-szeged.hu
Home institution: 
University of Szeged
Academic position: senior assistant professor
Areas of research: Transformations of the Vice-character in late Medieval and
Early Modern English Drama, Metadrama and the ontology of artistic fiction, Visual dramaturgy
Title of the presentation: ?Shelter in the presence of onlooking strangers?:
Perception and the Theatrum Mundi metaphor

Most important Publications

  • The Vice Device: Iago and Lear?s Fool as Agents of Representational Crisis. Szeged:JATE Press, 2011
  • Shaping the Spectacle: Faking, Making and Performing Reality through
    In Rui Carvalho Homem ed. Relational Designs in Literature and the Arts: Page and Stage, Canvas and Screen (in press).
  • ?Uncreating? Oneself: Fantastic Agents of Intermediality in Tudor Drama. In:
    Sabine Coelsch ed. What constitutes the Fantastic?. Szeged: JATE Press, 2010, 117-124.
  • Tarantino?s Kill Bill and the Renaissance Tradition of Revenge Plays. In Pavel Drabek ed. Shakespeare and His Collaborators over the Centuries. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008, 211-220.
  • ?Fools and devils and those antique relics of barbarism retrieved?: The Vice as barbarian and humanist. Almási Zsolt and Mike Pincombe eds. Humanism versus Barbarism in Tudor England, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008, 98-115.
  • Improvising Femininity. In Iconology of Gender. vol. I-II. Szőnyi György Endre et al. eds. Szeged: JATE Press, 2008, vol. I, 245-250.

Title of the presentation

?Shelter in the presence of onlooking strangers?: 
Perception and the Theatrum Mundi metaphor


The paper explores the dynamics of perception in the context of late medieval and early modern theatre in England. The model in which the investigation situates the notion of perception is the theatre metaphor, the all too familiar idea according to which ?all the world is a stage?. The present fame of the metaphor mainly springs from its Shakespearean roots which are surprisingly diverse themselves, but the figure looks back on a much longer tradition. Its changes at the early modern are influenced by the changes in the function of theatre as a social institution: emerging partly from religious ritual, it became a vibrant, influential and explorative social tool at the turn of the 17th century. Relying on different and sometimes contradictory meanings this figure conveys in its diverse uses throughout history, the argument offers an analysis of different functions and possibilities of the way the audience?s perception of theater as the theatrum mundi is constituted through versions of this model. Possible ways are explored in which perception as the audience?s interaction with the spectacle reconstitutes the spectators? position on the one hand, and shapes the spectacle itself on the other. Considerations of contemporary performance studies, such as attempts to theorize the theatre?s conventions to mediate the ?immediate experience?, the shifting question of ?the spectator?s awareness of the present moment? are evoked to provide a larger frame for understanding the theoretical implications of the changing metaphor. How does theatre stage the problematic of perception? And how can it contribute to ?an expansion of perceptual possibilities? (Cormac Power) through offering us to see the world anew?

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