Abstract and Keywords
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, consciousness, agency, and embodiment are not always in concert. Legal personification serves as the backdrop of my discussion of Bottom’s metamorphosis, which I see as evocative of developments within common law around the creation of artificial persons. In early modern jurisprudence, disembodiment offered an occasion for incorporation, such that the non-consensual human could be transformed into an artificial entity with agentic capacity. Through the staging of metamorphosis, A Midsummer Night’s Dream elaborates the surreal transformation of the human into the non-human as a theatrical effect with political implications, insofar as personification is an enabling condition of the collective rather than a crisis of the individual. The play’s sensitivity to artificial assemblage puts it in conversation with a strand of contemporary political thought interested in the complexity of the will beyond the human body.
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