Title of Poster or Presentation

Political Ecology in Shakespeare’s Roman Plays

Presenter Information

Emily SharrettFollow

Submission Type

Oral/Paper Presentation

Degree Type

PhD

Discipline

Humanities

Department

English

Access Type

Open Access

Abstract or Description

This paper presents an overview of my dissertation project. My project harnesses posthumanist and ecofeminist insights to illuminate how the category of the human—whether its metaphysical status, purview, or validity—is at the center of early modern understandings of classical moral and political philosophies. In doing so, my study redresses a gap in the critical reception of Shakespeare’s Roman texts by challenging existing cross-historical, cross-cultural studies that (a) consider the human a stable construct and (b) overlook the capacity for nonhuman forces to impact humanity’s discursive and material practices. I extend ongoing critical debates by demonstrating how the figure of Aristotle’s “political animal” exceeds the human in Shakespeare’s Roman plays (Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Cymbeline) and narrative poetry (Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece). Specifically, I argue that early modern literary representations of human agency in ancient Mediterranean sea- and land-scapes are positioned alongside, and often considered less favorably than, the forces exerted by other creatures, inert matter, or technologies.

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Political Ecology in Shakespeare’s Roman Plays

This paper presents an overview of my dissertation project. My project harnesses posthumanist and ecofeminist insights to illuminate how the category of the human—whether its metaphysical status, purview, or validity—is at the center of early modern understandings of classical moral and political philosophies. In doing so, my study redresses a gap in the critical reception of Shakespeare’s Roman texts by challenging existing cross-historical, cross-cultural studies that (a) consider the human a stable construct and (b) overlook the capacity for nonhuman forces to impact humanity’s discursive and material practices. I extend ongoing critical debates by demonstrating how the figure of Aristotle’s “political animal” exceeds the human in Shakespeare’s Roman plays (Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Cymbeline) and narrative poetry (Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece). Specifically, I argue that early modern literary representations of human agency in ancient Mediterranean sea- and land-scapes are positioned alongside, and often considered less favorably than, the forces exerted by other creatures, inert matter, or technologies.