English, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Stephen M. Buhler.
Lincoln, Nebraska: March, 2010
Copyright 2010 Farrah Lehman.


This dissertation examines prominent points of intersection between early modern English theatrical practices and posthumanist, post-cybernetic new media theory as a means of interrogating assumptions about “media narratives” (here, the development of dramatic blank verse), proto-Brechtian anti-illusionism, and sensory encounter related to the late sixteenth-and early seventeenth century stage. The arguments presented here in part rely on the work of three present-day critics: Mark B.N. Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Brian Massumi, all of whom explore posthumanist theory while addressing possibilities for posthumanist practices within the humanities. Examining a wide range of texts, including plays and pro-and anti-theater tracts, initially printed or performed between 1560 and 1640, I argue that there were aspects of early modern English drama that were about signs but not signifiers, performance but not representation; early modern dramatists, performers, and supporters and opponents of the theater were not necessarily concerned with how bodies, events, and sins were represented, but with why (un)certain aspects of bodies, events, and sins/signs could not be represented back to the mind or consciousness.