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Lectures from the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study: Marmorializing the Dead in Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and The Winter’s Tale

April 25, 2012

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium
General Research Division

As several critics have noted in recent years, Reformation revisions to burial rites and obsequies for the dead engendered anxieties about mortality and closure, remembrance and annihilation. My project argues that, as the corpse is erased from official liturgies and religious practices, it resurfaces frequently—and often quite spectacularly—on the stage, where it also becomes the object of erotic attraction. The seemingly-dead, marble-like bodies of Juliet, Desdemona, and Hermione are suggestive of the growing popularity of monumental tombs and mortuary statues (substitutes, in one sense, for abrogated rituals) and likewise point up the role of eroticized stage corpses in bridging what Howard Barker calls the “appalling chasm” between the living and the dead. 

Linda Neiberg is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. Program in English at The Graduate Center (CUNY) and a Communication Fellow at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch College, CUNY. Her dissertation is titled, Exquisite Corpses: Fantasies of Necrophilia in Early Modern English Drama.

For other lectures from the Wertheim Study, click here.