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Taking a Bow in the Theater of Things

Michael Wintroub
Isis
Vol. 101, No. 4 (December 2010), pp. 779-793
DOI: 10.1086/657477
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/657477
Page Count: 15
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Taking a Bow in the Theater of Things
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Beginning with the meaning and use of the word “performance,” this essay analyzes some of the ambiguities and tensions performance has historically engendered. These tensions were both social and epistemic and can be sketched out with relation to either the corrupting influences of performance as dissimulation and masquerade or its didactic possibilities as exemplary of morality, virtue, and truth. Following these tensions across the history of antitheatrical literature into early modern natural philosophy, the essay attempts to show some of the ways that natural philosophy was used to perform—regulate, discipline, and direct—its audience(s), while simultaneously being itself performed—through interlocking practices enacted by sites, objects, and humans—as demonstrative of the legitimacy of its social and epistemic authority.

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