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Forgotten Cites/Sights

Interpretation and the Power of Classical Citation in Renaissance English Tragedy

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Elizabeth Richmond-Garza

This study argues for the importance of classical citations, ranging from direct quotations to invocations of theories of interpretation, for Renaissance English tragedy. After an account of tragic spectacle and the role of the imagination in the works of Aristotle and Seneca, the study presents close readings of the political, philosophical, and theatrical implications of the reappropriation of such material for several Renaissance English plays that are particularly concerned with visual epistemology, including the neo-Latin academic tragedy Perfidus Hetruscus, Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II, and William Shakespeare's Coriolanus. Informed by a theory of citations developed from Jacques Derrida, the study explores how each play, in politically volatile and topical contexts, reveals the power of visual images to coerce.