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"'A Strange, Hollow, and Confused Noise': Prospero's Start and the Phenomenology of Magic," a talk by Professor Lyn Tribble, Department of English, University of Connecticut

An image of oak leaves from UConn

Five College Renaissance Seminar 

The reasons for Prospero's start and its emotional aftermath are never fully explained in the play. This talk argues that we can explain Prospero's psycho-physical state after the dissolution of the masque through two related avenues of inquiry. First, this talk will explore the ramifications of the start or startle itself, arguing that starts often occur on stage as characters emerge from an altered state. This point leads into a consideration of the way that early modern magical practitioners were trained to alter their states of consciousness in order to perform the emotionally gruelling labour of conjuring spirits.

Professor Lyn Tribble's research interests center around Shakespeare, performance, memory, and skill. She explores theatrical history through the lens of distributed cognition, asking how Shakespeare’s company met the astonishing cognitive demands of their profession, particularly the performance of up to six different plays a week.

Professor Tribble is the author of Margins and Marginality: The Printed Page in Early Modern England (Virginia, 1993), Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age (with Anne Trubek, Longmans, 2003), Cognitive Ecologies and the History of Remembering (with Nicholas Keene, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Cognition in the Globe: Attention and Memory in Shakespeare’s Theatre (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Early Modern Actors and Shakespeare’s Theatre: Thinking with the Body (Arden Bloomsbury, 2017), and The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and Science (with Howard Marchitello, Palgrave, 2017). She has also published articles in Shakespeare Quarterly,Shakespeare SurveyShakespeare StudiesTextual Practice, and ELH, among others. Professor Tribble's current research projects include the Arden 4 edition of Merry Wives of Windsor and a book on magic and performance in early modern England.

Reception to follow

For more information please contact renaissance@english.umass.edu