Shakespeare Jahrbuch 2012 (148)


Shipwrecks and pirates were ever-present threats during journeys of trade or discovery in early modern times. With the European colonial expansion from the fifteenth century onwards, seafaring became a potent metaphor for human life in general. At the same time, it initiated a rich and multifarious production of texts in diverse genres – including navigational handbooks, travel diaries and travel drama. The Shakespearean stage faced the problem of representing catastrophe, and fundamental questions were raised about the relationship between the audience and the (staged) spectacle of destruction. Tobias Döring’s contribution even proposes an analogy between the sea and the stage and reads the engagement with seafaring in Shakespeare’s plays as metatheatrical reflexions. Felix Sprang’s article shows the fundamental influence which the study of navigation had not only on the imagery of the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, but also on plot structure and characterization. The contributions by Ina Habermann and Bernhard Klein build on recent theories of space. Habermann proposes to read plays such as Twelfth Night, Pericles or The Tempest as constructions of “hodological” spaces. In Klein’s essay, the ship as well as the sea are conceptualised as “lived spaces”, which allow insights into bodily practices, social dynamics and cultural contacts. Claire Jowitt’s contribution focuses on a particular group of maritime agents in Shakespeare’s plays, namely pirates, who raise pertinent cultural-political questions. Rui Carvalho Homem analyses the afterlife of The Tempest, as well as its cultural and literary implications, by looking at adaptations of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Finally, Maik Hamburger offers a brief overview of the manifold ‘images’ and dramaturgical functions of the sea in Shakespeare’s plays.

Sabine Schülting