Site Unscene

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3502-4

E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3503-1

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3501-7
Publication Date
May 2017
Page Count
240 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Site Unscene

The Offstage in English Renaissance Drama
Jonathan Walker

Site Unscene: The Offstage in English Renaissance Drama explores the key role of dramatic episodes that occur offstage and beyond the knowledge-generating faculty of playgoers’ sight. Does Ophelia drown? Is Desdemona unfaithful to Othello? Does Macbeth murder Duncan in his sleep? Site Unscene considers how the drama’s nonvisible and eccentric elements embellish, alter, and subvert visible action on the stage.
Jonathan Walker demonstrates that by removing scenes from visible performance, playwrights take up the nondramatic mode of storytelling in order to transcend the limits of the stage. Through this technique, they present dramatic action from the subjective, self-interested, and idiosyncratic perspectives of individual characters. By recovering these offstage elements, Walker reveals the pervasive and formative dynamic between the onstage and offstage and between the seen and unseen in Renaissance drama.
Examining premodern dramatic theory, Renaissance plays, period amphitheaters, and material texts, this interdisciplinary work considers woodcuts, engravings, archaeology, architecture, rhetoric, the history of the book, as well as plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Kyd, Ford, Middleton, and Webster, among others. It addresses readers engaged in literary criticism, dramatic theory, theater history, and textual studies. 
About the Author

JONATHAN WALKER is an associate professor of English at Portland State University.

"This is an astute and thrillingly interdisciplinary study . . . Walker develops a provocative reassessment of the sites of critical interest in Renaissance drama, and he is deeply invested in this drama’s interpretive challenge to its audiences—a challenge that originates in the visual, generic, interpretive, and epistemological perspective created by the offstage." —Renaissance Quarterly

"Site Unscene is a welcome contribution to the study of narrative in drama. It engages convincingly with ancient and contemporary theories, while offering a good attempt at bridging the gap among literary criticism, performance studies, and theatre history, as well as textual studies, architecture, and visual culture." —Theatre Journal

"Comprehensive in research and deft in exposition, [Site Unscene] corrals theoretical distinctions between drama and narrative, onstage storytelling, theatre architecture and non-dialogic text in printed drama in order to trace the symbiotic opposition of onstage and offstage elements in the production of Renaissance drama." —Theatre Research International

"Admirably researched and knowledgeably written, Site Unscene makes a thorough and convincing argument. Although written with scholars of Renaissance drama in mind, this intriguing topic has much wider appeal." —William Gruber, author of Comic Theaters: Studies in Performance and Audience Response and Missing Persons: Essays on Character and Characterization in Modern Drama

"In some ways, this book seems like two books: Walker works to bring together two contemporary critical strands to talk about a totality of the early modern interpretive experience... Both the theoretical and the practical are operating at once and the interplay of the two is what we need to better understand the early modern dramatic scene. Walker’s achievement is to open up that gap between the two and remind the reader that this is the space for interpretation . . . As a piece of literary criticism, this book both theorizes and enacts that gap."