The Tears of Sovereignty: Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama

The Tears of Sovereignty: Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 392
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    The Tears of Sovereignty: Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama
    Book Description:

    A comparative study of the representation of sovereignty in paradigmatic plays of early modernity, The Tears of Sovereignty argues that the great playwrights of the period--William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Calderon de la Barca--reconstitute the metaphors through which contemporary theorists continue to conceive the problems of sovereignty. The book focuses in particular on the ways the logics of these metaphors inform sovereignty's conceptualization as a "body of power." Each chapter is organized around a key tropological operation performed on that "body," from the analogical relations invoked in Richard II, through the metaphorical transfers staged in Measure for Measure to the autoimmune resistances they produce in Lope's Fuenteovejuna, and, finally, the allegorical returns of Calderon's Life is a Dream and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The "tears" of sovereignty are the exegetical tropes produced and performed on the English stages and Spanish corrales of the seventeenth century through which we continue to view sovereignty today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5131-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction: The Body Is Burning—Sovereignty, Image, Trope
    (pp. 1-32)

    On December 1, 1613, England’s King James I ordered that a book,A Defense of the Catholic Faith against the Errors of the Anglican Sect(Defensio fidei), by the Jesuit theologian and philosopher Francisco Suárez, be burned in front of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.¹ The Spanish Ambassador to England, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña (Count of Gondomar), described the scene to Spain’s King, Philip III, in the following letter:

    [T]oday at noon, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has jurisdiction over London, a minister preached in the cemetery of St. Paul’s Church and in the midst of his...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Breakdown: Analogy and Ontotheology in Richard II
    (pp. 33-58)

    “Theory must move among the events,” Machiavelli writes in a 1503 letter to Piero Soderini. Ten years later, he writes to Soderini again: “… that man is fortunate who harmonizes his procedure with his time, but on the contrary he is not fortunate who in his actions is out of harmony with his time and with the type of its affairs.” The question of time, in relation to sovereignty, is one of Machiavelli’s central preoccupations, and it stayed with him throughout his work. As the philosopher Antonio Negri has shown, time and theory move together in Machiavelli’s thought, particularly in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Reanimation: The Logic of Transfer in Measure for Measure
    (pp. 59-96)

    In the second installment of his “brain-dead trilogy,”Todo Sobre Mi Madre(All About My Mother), Pedro Almodóvar tells the story of Manuela (Cecelia Roth), a mother and Transplant Coordinator at the Ramón y Cajal hospital in Madrid. Manuela’s job is to train doctors for the delicate task of informing a relative that a loved one has died and then requesting permission to take his/her organs.² Rehearsal quickly gives way to reality when, in a sad and ironic turn, Manuela’s son is killed in a car accident after watching a performance ofA Streetcar Named Desire. Suddenly, the very doctors...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Resistance: Waiting for Power in Fuenteovejuna
    (pp. 97-152)

    How to make politics sweet? Natural? Nourishing? Not only for the “good life,” but foralllife? “How is it possible to ‘politicize’ [what Aristotle refers to as] the ‘natural sweetness’ ofzoē?”² These are among the questions Giorgio Agamben asks in his philosophical critique of sovereignty,Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life.The following chapter explores one, baroque, response to Agamben’s questions, as well as to the question of sovereignty itself, as it has been posed for us so far by the analogy and metaphor logics ofRichard IIandMeasure for Measure. Turning from thetearsand...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Transformation: The Body Moves Out in Life Is a Dream
    (pp. 153-203)

    Calderón de la Barca’sLife Is a Dream(La vida es Sueño) (1635) has been described as the “ultimate work of theatrical theology.”¹ Considered one of the most philosophically complex works of the early modern period,Life Is a Dreamnot only raises theological and political questions of power, but it also poses epistemological and ontological challenges to thought, particularly in relation to the increasingly sophisticated representational capacities of baroque theater. Like Suárez, in Jean-François Courtine’s account, and against a long-standing tradition that views the Jesuit playwright as a bastion of Spanish conservatism, Calderón, too, could be viewed as a...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Return: The “Wrinkles” of Mystery in The Winter’s Tale
    (pp. 204-238)

    The representational shift, into the allegorical figures of the cipher and the image (cifras y estampas) staged inLife Is a Dream, appears to provide us with one form of an ending. By the time we arrive at Calderón’s dream play, the effects of sovereignty’s rupture from the King’s body, staged in Shakespeare’sRichard II, could be said to be complete. Sovereignty, inLife Is a Dream, no longer speaks through—at least the human—body at all. Nor does it even seem to require the law, or that the bodies subject to its force signify its presence, as in...

  10. After-Image
    (pp. 239-246)

    In lieu of a conclusion, I would like to consider what remains. What, in the end, do the “tears,” or tropes of sovereignty, come together to show? Throughout these pages, I have focused on both how the problem of sovereignty has been imagined by the great playwrights of the early modern period, and also on how their visions continue to illuminate the writings of twentieth-and twenty-first century theorists and critics, such as Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, and Jacques Derrida. For these, and others, while sovereignty may generate a profusion of images, the space from which this generation emerges...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-344)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 345-370)
  13. Index
    (pp. 371-380)