Advertisement

Embedded in Shakespeare’s “Fair Verona”

  • Rebecca TotaroEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)

Abstract

Drawing from the medical humanities to examine Verona as an “epidemic assemblage,” Totaro offers an unsettling reading of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A phrase blending Joost van Loon’s concept of “epidemic space” and Jane Bennett’s thinking about human–nonhuman assemblages as sites of distributive agency, the epidemic assemblage denies a patient zero. As an assemblage of people, weather, politics, economy, infrastructure, etc., Verona thus denies assignation of causal agency or blame. Furthermore, while the always-changing mixtures of non-human and human things in this space give rise to the literal plague, to contagious anger, and to seemingly effective curses, they also produce young love, maternal love, friendship, and exuberant pleasure. Embedded within the epidemic assemblage of Verona, Totaro advocates the rethinking of all spaces of contagion, literary and literal; spaces issuing death. They produce equally salubrious forms of change, including laughter.

Works Cited

  1. Antulov-Fantulin, Nino, Alen Lancic, Tomislav Smuc, Hrvoje Stefancic, and Mike Sikic. “Identification of Patient Zero in Static and Temporal Networks: Robustness and Limitations.” Physical Review Letters 114, no. 24 (2015): 1–5.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
  3. Brooke, Arthur. Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet, written first in Italian by Bandell, and nowe in English by Ar. Br. London, 1562.Google Scholar
  4. Crane, Mary Thomas. Losing Touch with Nature: Literature and the New Science in Sixteenth-Century England. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  5. Crawford, Julie. Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-reformation England. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  6. DeGrazia, Margreta. Hamlet Without Hamlet. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  7. Dobson, Mary J. Contours of Death and Disease in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  8. Eggert, Katherine. Disknowledge: Literature, Alchemy, and the End of Humanism in Renaissance England. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  9. Floyd-Wilson, Mary. “‘Angry Mab with Blisters Plague’: The Pre-modern Science of Contagion in Romeo and Juliet.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Early Modern Literature and Science, edited by Howard Marchitello and Evelyn Tribble, 315–342. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. Occult Knowledge, Science, and Gender on the Shakespearean Stage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.Google Scholar
  12. Garrard, Mary D. Brunelleschi’s Egg: Nature, Art, and Gender in Renaissance Italy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010.Google Scholar
  13. Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  14. Gentilecore, David. Medical Charlatanism in Early Modern Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  15. Gilligan, Carol. The Birth of Pleasure. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.Google Scholar
  16. Gilman, Ernest B. Plague Writing in Early Modern England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  17. Healy, Margaret. “Journeying with the ‘Stone’: Montaigne’s Healing Travel Journal.” Literature and Medicine 24, no. 2 (2005): 231–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hird, Myra J. The Origins of Sociable Life: Evolution After Science Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.Google Scholar
  19. Kuriyama, Shigehisa. The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine. New York: Zone Books, 1999.Google Scholar
  20. Lupton, Julia Reinhard. “Cute Shakespeare,” edited by Julia Reinhard Lupton and Thomas Anderson. Special Issue of Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 16, no. 3 (Summer 2016): 1–12.Google Scholar
  21. ———. “Cut Him Up in Little Stars: Romeo and Juliet Among the Arts.” Paper presented at the World Shakespeare Congress. Birmingham, UK, 1 August 2016.Google Scholar
  22. McKay, Richard A. “‘Patient Zero’: The Absence of a Patient’s View of the Early North American AIDS Epidemic.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 88, no. 1 (2014): 161–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McNeil, Donald J., Jr. “The Ethics of Hunting Down ‘Patient Zero.’” New York Times, 29 October 2016.Google Scholar
  24. Neill, Michael. Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  25. Ngai, Sianne. “Our Aesthetic Categories.” PMLA 125, no. 4 (October 2010): 948–958.Google Scholar
  26. ———. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  27. Opitz, Sven. “Regulating Epidemic Space: The Nomos of Global Circulation.” Journal of International Relations and Development 19, no. 2 (2016): 263–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Paster, Gail Kern. “Becoming the Landscape: The Ecology of the Passions in the Legend of Temperance.” In Environment and Embodiment in Early Modern England, edited by Mary Floyd-Wilson and Garrett A. Sullivan Jr., 137–152. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. ———. Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  30. ———. “The Tragic Subject and Its Passions.” In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, edited by Claire McEachern, 142–159. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  31. Paster, Gail Kern, Katherine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson. Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  32. Pelling, Margaret. The Common Lot: Sickness, Medical Occupations, and the Urban Poor in Early Modern London. London and New York: Longman, 1998.Google Scholar
  33. ———. Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London: Patronage, Physicians, and Irregular Practitioners, 1550–1640. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  34. Poole, Kristen. Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare’s England: Spaces of Demonism, Divinity, and Drama. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  35. Schoenfeldt, Michael C. Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton. Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  36. Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Edited by Rene Weiss. Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2012.Google Scholar
  37. ———. Romeo and Juliet. Edited by Jill L. Levenson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  38. Siena, Kevin. “‘The Foul Disease’ and Privacy: The Effects of Venereal Disease and Patient Demand on the Medical Marketplace in Early Modern London.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 75, no. 2 (2001): 199–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Slack, Paul. The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  40. Smith, David L. “Spatial Heterogeneity in Infectious Disease Epidemics.” In Ecosystem Function in Heterogeneous Landscapes, edited by Gary Lovett, 137–164. New York: Springer, 2005.Google Scholar
  41. Sullivan, Erin. “Physical and Spiritual Illness: Narrative Appropriations of the Bills of Mortality.” In Totaro, Representing the Plague in Early Modern England, 76–94.Google Scholar
  42. Taylor, Luke. “Donne’s Unwilled Body.” John Donne Journal 30 (2011): 99–121.Google Scholar
  43. Totaro, Rebecca, and Ernest B. Gilman. Introduction to Representing the Plague in Early Modern England. Edited by Rebecca Totaro and Ernest B. Gilman, 1–34. Abingdon: Routledge, 2010.Google Scholar
  44. ———. Meteorology and Physiology in Early Modern Culture: Earthquakes, Human Identity, and Textual Representation. In Perspectives on the Non-human in Literature and Culture, edited by Karen Raber. Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  45. Traister, Barbara. “‘A Plague on Both Your Houses’: Sites of Comfort and Terror in Early Modern Drama.” In Totaro, Representing the Plague, 169–182.Google Scholar
  46. van Loon, Joost. “Epidemic Space.” Critical Public Health 15, no. 1 (2005): 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Walsham, Alexandra. Providence in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  48. Weisser, Olivia. “Boils, Pushes and Wheals: Reading Bumps on the Body in Early Modern England.” Social History of Medicine 22, no. 2 (2009): 321–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wilson, Malcolm. Structure and Method in Aristotle’s ‘Meteorologica’: A More Disorderly Nature. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  50. WNYC Studios. “Patient Zero”. Radiolab. Podcast audio, 14 November 2011. http://www.radiolab.org/story/169879-patient-zero/. Accessed 30 June 2017.
  51. Wright, Jonathan. “The World’s Worst Worm: Conscience and Conformity During the English Reformation.” Sixteenth Century Journal 30, no. 1 (1999): 113–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort MyersUSA

Personalised recommendations