Forms of Authorship in Early Modern Culture: Online First
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Forms of Authorship in Early Modern Culture
The article explores one of the most assiduously researched topics in Shakespeare criticism: that of the ways in which Shakespeare’s responsibility as author of the plays that traditionally bear his name has been established. Rehearsing the major contributions to this debate (from the mid-nineteenth-century idea that Shakespeare’s plays were the work of a group of intellectuals, to recent tendencies in attribution studies which dismember the canon on the basis of theories of co-authorship and collaboration), it maintains that one of the most persistent tendencies in the debate has been that of disintegration; and that both the dismembering of the canon as a whole and the amputating of parts of it as collaboratively written have had the paradoxical effect of de-authorialising what are conventionally known as ‘Shakespeare’s plays’. Not simply meant as a historical survey, the article also highlights the fact that, as well as determining effects on the Shakespeare canon, disintegrative tendencies have inspired theories of the text relevant to the construction of authorial identity, and have also generated a fallout on the idea, expressed by bibliographers and textual scholars, that the composition and configuration of texts are inescapably collaborative. Finally, the article maintains that biography too has been affected by a notion of disintegration which insists on a de-personalised subject and the idea that a life, no less than a text, is a socially-composed construct.
Keywords: Authorship, Biography, Co-Authorship, Disintegration, Shakespeare
Sylvia Greenup. ‘Playing at Bo-peep with the world’ The Author/Actor in Charlotte Charke’s Narrative
The article re-examines The Narrative of the Life of Mrs Charlotte Charke (1755), the first autobiography by a female actor (albeit one who consistently specialised in male roles) in terms of the strategies it deploys for showing, and hiding, the author’s physical person and authorial persona. As the youngest daughter of Colley Cibber, Charke was a member of London’s most influent theatrical family, and led a life marked by spectacular misfortune and neverending optimism. To claw her way out of the exclusion from acting that was the outcome of the Licencing Act, she undertook an extraordinary sequence of different careers, worked as a strolling player for nine years, and attempted a reconciliation with her father through her autobiography, which, deeply inscribed by the theatre in terms of both content and style, highlights the interaction between spontaneity and premeditation. Feelings seem not only expressed, but shaped through drama; memory becomes the bodily memory of interpreting a role, represented on the outdoor theatre of her many professional endeavours and ultimately in the pages of her book. Charke’s second ‘coming on the Stage’, her appearance, that is, in the guise of author, is marked by both gender and genre indeterminacy. As a ‘cartaceous’ remediation of her innate and unstoppable passion for the theatre it shows a precocious understanding of the newborn ‘cult of celebrity’ and the possibilities for self-promotion offered by the expanding print market. Ultimately, it aims to counter theatrical censorship by educating Charke’s audience/readership to a more critical awareness of the relationship between actor/role, gender/clothes and author/character.
Keywords: Authorship, Dramatic Memory, Female Labour, Theatrical Autobiography