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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that all Shakespearean comedy is queer comedy, and thus that ‘queer comedy’ is itself a terminological redundancy. Insofar as they share a constitutive capaciousness, ‘queer’ and ‘comedy’ mobilize anti-normalizing strategies, the effect of which is to unsettle, and in so doing demythologize, dominant ideas in favor recurrent excess and abundant multiplicity. The at-once deconstructive and generative force of such procedures, which on the stage collude to puncture fantasies of love and desire, perform an excess in love and desire that obtain despite, or rather because of, comedy’s endlessly shifting investments and arcs. Although typically understood as one of Shakespeare’s starkest depictions of violent patriarchal heterosociality, Much Ado About Nothing deploys queer-comic procedures that facilitate playgoers’ encounters with the full range of contradictions and vicissitudes inherent in, and indeed constitutive of, what is termed humanity.

Keywords: queer theory, comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, desire, love, Aristotle, laughter, puns

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