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date: 20 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Media theorists have recently sought to challenge traditional conceptions of a ‘medium’ as a passive means for human ends, or an exterior supplement to an essential human core; however, they have not yet fully investigated the implications of this conceptual shift for the history of gender. This essay focuses on two key Shakespearean scenes in which female characters become tightly associated with the theatrical medium: the awakening of Queen Hermione’s statue in The Winter’s Tale and the bed-tricks of All’s Well That Ends Well. While these scenes link theatrical devices with qualities conventionally gendered feminine (artificiality, exteriority, and embodiment), they also transvalue the traditionally negative associations of that feminization, in part by reimagining the workings of mediation itself. Shakespeare’s plays thus offer nascent forms of media theory that are deeply relevant to our contemporary world.

Keywords: media, theatre, body, idolatry, statue, bed-trick, agency, sex, autonomy, technophobia

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