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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the coincidence of moments of dance with particularly rhetorical language in Shakespeare’s plays, including Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet. It offers a brief cultural background on the conflicting attitudes toward dance and rhetoric located in, among others, their power to persuade through patterned movement and language, a power amplified through an experience of embodied cognition on the multimedia stage. Alternatives for a lack of bibliographical evidence for dance are discussed and illustrated. The endings of Much Ado about Nothing and As You Like It are scrutinized in terms of their use of rhetoric and dance in persuading characters and spectators to agree to the pairing off of lovers, the promised end of a comedy, which jars with the complex final situations of these plays. Romeo and Juliet is discussed in terms of its engagement via dance with lyrical forms like the sonnet, converging language and movement in the cultural moment of the sonnet fashion. Throughout this chapter, discoveries of cognitive science on cognitive dissonance and empathy creation offer new ways of approach to the persuasive maneuvers of both rhetoric and dance, suggesting more inclusive ways of imagining bodies and words at work on the early modern stage.

Keywords: Shakespeare, dance, rhetoric, cognitive science, embodied cognition, empathy, persuasion, cognitive dissonance

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