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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In Shakespeare’s comedies, place is related to identity, so that a shift in location can alter a character’s sense of self. Renaissance English culture had two different notions of space and place, a proto-scientific sense of uniformly measurable space and qualitatively undifferentiated locales in tension with an opposite sense that places could have affective or magical powers. Related to that second sense, place in Shakespeare’s comedies functions more figuratively and poetically than realistically. The metaphoric home of Shakespearean comedy is Italy, because of its reputation not only for humanist culture and cosmopolitanism but also for moral complexity and openness; imaginatively, it constitutes a place where change is possible. In that spirit, Shakespeare’s comedies often involve movement from a constricting ‘regulative’ locale to one more protean, more open to self-discovery and transformation. Those protean places may even exert a certain power, as if in another place one could become another self.

Keywords: geography, grand tour, ‘green world’, Italy, map(s), place, space, William Thomas

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