“A little touch of Harry in the night”: Translucency and Projective Transversality in the Sexual and National Politics of Henry V

  • Donald Hedrick
  • Bryan Reynolds


The multiple roles of Henry V have become a critical commonplace, whether he is viewed positively or negatively as savvy prince or as calculating politician. The specific interrelation of the roles and the mechanisms of their production have been less attended to, and are, because of their paradoxical interfaces, particularly inviting of a transversal analysis. In employing “transversal theory” for this purpose, we find that the play foregrounds a mechanism we call the “principal of translucency,” by which one signifier or identity is incompletely concealed within another, a disguise apparently flawed or inadequate, producing a particular kind of mixed coding for audiences or spectators, who experience transversality in response.1 While historically nonspecific as both a social and theatrical trope, this principle of translucency is specifically historical as a feature of early modern social performativity theorized in terms of courtly spectacle by Baldessare Castiglione. It is a visual means whereby transversal territory may be open for wonder, whereby the subjective dislocations of transversality may be approximated visually for an audience’s understanding and enticement. Shakespeare, as we hope to demonstrate, illustrates an employment of transversality onstage and offstage, including what we call a “projective transversality,” by which one effects, or attempts to affect, transversality in the other rather than in oneself.


Topo Blindness Dock Metaphor Folk 


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Copyright information

© Bryan Reynolds 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Hedrick
  • Bryan Reynolds

There are no affiliations available

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