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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Far from being a well-regulated, predictable totality, the early modern English economy defied reliable oversight. Measure for Measure charts the unpredictable flow of goods, services, bodies, and information. This essay considers how our understanding of early modern comic form as driven by the compensatory logic of payment in kind is connected to perceptions of the early modern economy as itself limited to a series of exchanges that establishes the equivalence of two values. While comic closure ensures restitution, the genre simultaneously refuses to adhere to its own reparative logic. Measure for Measure elaborates an alternative means of achieving satisfaction via participation in a sympathetic system. In the place of economic rationality, we are confronted with the unknowability of diffuse and productive forces that prime, incite, and orient (and disorient) people.

Keywords: Measure for Measure, comic form, city-comedy, reparation, money, credit, networks, sympathy, flow, weak sovereignty

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