2013 Bevington Award for Best New Book

David Bevington Award
Award Year: 

Work: Lin, Erika T. Shakespeare and the Materiality of Performance. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Lin briefly summarizes the project of her book, Shakespeare and the Materiality of Performance, by saying that it “examines the unspoken assumptions constitutive of early modern theatrical literacy.” The term “materiality” in her title refers to the way that a phenomenon as ephemeral and immaterial as performance not only transmitted current cultural attitudes, but also provided the vehicle for constructing new meaning: “the baseline assumptions and expectations, the codes of intelligibility imbricated in all aspects of social life.” Drawing upon examples from Shakespeare and his contemporaries, she deftly considers questions such as the performance of the visible and invisibility, ghosts and dreams, “feats of activity” ranging from dancing to acrobatic skills, and ultimately, to the stagecraft of dismemberment and cruelty. Lin produces fresh and persuasive interpretations of canonical texts while demonstrating how the investigation of performance practices provides keys to unravelling some of the threads of the tacit structures of comprehension in early drama.