Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Inventions of the skin

Andrea Stevens came by my office today bearing a copy of her new book,  Inventions of the Skin: The Painted Body in Early English Drama, 1400-1642

I had the opportunity to see this in typescript as it went into production, and that's why I'm so excited now to see it in print: it is really a wonderful book!  It combines solid, materialist research in theater history with evocative, philosophically oriented readings of plays as performance texts.  It is rare to find a book these days that combines positivist research with generative, theoretically rich readings of texts, and even rarer to find both in a book that is as lucidly written as this one is.  If you are a scholar in early modern literary studies or performance studies (or if you would like to become one) I recommend reading this book.

Inventions of the Skin is published by Edinburgh University Press, as the latest entry in the new book series "Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture."  Under the general editorship of Lorna Hutson, this series is quickly becoming one of the most important venues for new work in early modern British literary culture. 

Here is the book description, pasted in from the press website:

"Inventions of the Skin illuminates a history of the stage technology of paint that extends backward to the 1460s York cycle and forward to the 1630s. Organized as a series of studies, the four chapters of this book examine goldface and divinity in York's Corpus Christi play, with special attention to the pageant representing The Transfiguration of Christ; bloodiness in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, specifically blood's unexpected role as a device for disguise in plays such as Look About You (anon.) and Shakespeare's Coriolanus; racial masquerade within seventeenth-century court performances and popular plays, from Ben Jonson's Masque of Blackness to William Berkeley's The Lost Lady; and finally whiteface, death, and "stoniness" in Thomas Middleton's The Second Maiden’s Tragedy and Shakespeare's The Winter’s Tale. Recovering a crucial grammar of theatrical representation, this book argues that the onstage embodiment of characters—not just the words written for them to speak—forms an important and overlooked aspect of stage representation."

Congratulations, Andrea!

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

This is fantastic!

Blog Archive