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Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press


Anthropology in the Company of Shakespeare

Focusing on performing Shakespeare’s plays, and on the player’s use of and reflections upon time, space, plot, and acting,  Kirsten Hastrup aims at a new understanding of action and motivation within any social setting. By listening to such experts of action as the players of Shakespeare, we achieve a comprehensive reappraisal of current notions of human agency. In the process, we are offered a set of methodological tools and analytical concepts that may enrich future anthropological analyses of individual actions in their social context. 

351 pages | 8.9 x 6 | © 2004

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Literature and Literary Criticism:

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Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements

Note on citations and abbreviations

Prologue: Companion Shakespeare

Theatres of action

Art and argument

Poetry in the mode of action

The uninvited guest

Theatre and the world

Chapter 1: The desire


Intention and motive

The will to truth

The craving for life

Embracing reality

Chapter 2: The stage

The Globe

The liminality of the stage

The bare stage

The sacred space

A site of passage

Chapter 3: The time

Production time

Performance time

Play time

The pulse of the play

The desire for duration


Chapter 4: The plot

The teller of tales

The soul of drama

Ambiguous stories

Self and double

The lyrical dimension

The voice of prophecy

Chapter 5: The director

The suthor’s voice

The first audience



The art of style


Chapter 6: The player

Embodying the act

The chorus

The mask

The character

Speech acts

Double agency

Chapter 7: The ethos

The Renaissance horizon

The inner life

The partners

The audience

Art and answerability

Epilogue: The art of living

The hardness of facts

The weakness of will

The eventness of being

Circles of attention

Contexts of action



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