Shakespeare and the Art of Physiognomy

Author: Baumbach, Sibylle


ISBN 978-1-84760-078-3 202 pages; pdf file 1.1mb One printing permitted; commenting enabled; copying disabled.

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This book deals with the poetics of the human face, the art of physiognomy, and strategies of nonverbal communication in Shakespeare's plays. It offers new insight into Shakespeare's modes of characterisation, and his art of performance.

In Shakespeare's plays, the human face is a focal point. As an area where expression and impression meet (and, ideally, correspond), its reliability and trustworthiness are frequently put to the test, sparking off a controversy which serves as a significant and highly challenging subtext to the overall plot.


1 Looking for Shakespeare's Face(s)
2 A Brief Overview of Physiognomic Thought and Theory
3 Shakespeare's Physiognomic Characters
4 A Physiognomic Inventory
5 'Let me behold thy face' - Physiognomic Readings
6 The Physiognomist in Shakespeare's Plays
7 Conclusion

About the author

Having studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Cambridge, Sibylle Baumbach took an MA at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a D.Phil at the University of Munich. She has taught at the universities of Warwick, Giessen, and Stanford, and is currently Professor of English Literature at the University of Innsbruck. Her main research areas include Early Modern literature and culture, intermediality, physiognomy and literature, mythology, and concepts of fascination. She is the author of 'Let me behold thy face'-Physiognomik und Gesichtslektueren in Shakespeares Tragoedien (2007), co-author of An Introduction to the Study of Plays and Drama (2009), editor of Regions of Culture -Regions of Identity/Kulturregionen-Identitaetsregionen (2010), and she has recently co-edited essay collections on Literature and Values (2009) and Metaphors Shaping Culture and Theory (2009).


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