Inventing the Spectator: Subjectivity and the Theatrical Experience in Early Modern France

Hardcover | June 1, 2014

byJoseph Harris

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During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France became famous - notorious even - across Europe for its ambitious attempts to codify and theorise a system of universally valid dramatic "rules". So fundamental and formative was this "classical" conception of drama that it still underpinsour modern conception of theatre today. Yet rather than rehearsing familiar arguments about plays, Inventing the Spectator reads early modern France's dramatic theory against the grain, tracing instead the profile and characteristics of the spectator that these arguments imply: the living, breathingindividual in whose mind, senses, and experience the theatre comes to life. In so doing, Joseph Harris raises numerous questions - of imagination and illusion, reason and emotion, vision and aurality, to name but a few - that strike at the very heart of human psychology, cognition, and experience. Bridging the gap between literary and theatre studies, history of psychology, and intellectual history, Inventing the Spectator thus reconstructs the theatre spectator's experience as it was understood and theorised within French dramatic theory between the Renaissance and the Revolution. Itexplores early modern spectatorship through three main themes (illusion and the senses; pleasure and narrative; interest and identification) and five key dramatic theoreticians (d'Aubignac, Corneille, Dubos, Rousseau, and Diderot). As it demonstrates, the period's dramatic rules are at heart rulesof psychology, cognition, and affect that emerged out of a complex dialogue with human subjectivity in all its richness.

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During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France became famous - notorious even - across Europe for its ambitious attempts to codify and theorise a system of universally valid dramatic "rules". So fundamental and formative was this "classical" conception of drama that it still underpinsour modern conception of theatre today. Yet...

Joseph Harris is Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has published widely on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French literature, particularly drama, and is the author of Hidden Agendas: Cross-Dressing in Seventeenth-Century France (Tubingen: 2005). His research interests include gender and sexuality; the pre...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pagesPublished:June 1, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198701616

ISBN - 13:9780198701613

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Subjectivity and the senses: from deceit to enthralment2. D'Aubignac: the rationalist spectator3. Corneille: the indulgent spectator4. Narrative pleasures: from intellect to emotion5. Dubos: the contemplative spectator6. Between interest and identification7. Rousseau: the alienated spectator8. Beyond domesticity: Diderot and the drameEpilogue: the decline of the spectator