Publication: Shakespeare’s Erotic Mythology and Ovidian Renaissance Culture

Shakespeare’s Erotic Mythology and Ovidian Renaissance Culture, Ed. Agnès Lafont, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2013. (978-1-4094-5131-0), 220 pages, £55.00.

Contributors:  Ilaria Andreoli (John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress), Sarah Annes Brown (Anglia Ruskin University), Frederic Delord (IRCL and University Montpellier III), Jane Kingsley-Smith (Roehampton University), Agnes Lafont (IRCL and University of Montpellier), Francois Laroque (University of Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle), Yves Peyre (IRCL and University Montpellier III), Stuart Sillars (University of Bergen), Marguerite Tassi (University of Nebraska – Kearney), Janice Valls-Russell (IRCL and University Montpellier III)

Taking cross-disciplinary and comparative approaches to the volume’s subject, this exciting collection of essays offers a reassessment of Shakespeare’s erotic and Ovidian mythology within classical and continental aesthetic contexts. Through extensive examination of mythological visual and textual material, scholars explore the transmission and reinvention of Ovidian eroticism in Shakespeare’s plays to show how early modern artists and audiences collectively engaged in redefining ways of thinking pleasure.
Within the collection’s broad-ranging investigation of erotic mythology in Renaissance culture, each chapter analyses specific instances of textual and pictorial transmission, reception, and adaptation. Through various critical strategies, contributors trace Shakespeare’s use of erotic material to map out the politics and aesthetics of pleasure, unravelling the ways in which mythology informs artistic creation. Received acceptions of neo-platonic love and the Petrarchan tensions of unattainable love are revisited, with a focus on parodic and darker strains of erotic desire, such as Priapic and Dionysian energies, lustful fantasy and violent eros. The dynamics of interacting tales is explored through their structural ability to adapt to the stage. Myth in Renaissance culture ultimately emerges not merely as near inexhaustible source material for the Elizabethan and Jacobean arts, but as a creative process in and of itself.

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•Introduction: Interacting with Eros: Shakespeare and Ovid,  Agnes Lafont (CNRS-University of Montpellier III)

• Part I Erotic Aesthetics and Printing Politics

Chapter 1: Ovid’s ‘meta-metamorphosis’: book illustration and the circulation of erotic iconographical patterns. Ilaria Andreoli (John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress)

Chapter 2: Political uses of erotic power in an Elizabethan mythological programme: dangerous interactions with Diana in Hardwick Hall.
Agnes Lafont  (IRCL and University Montpellier III)

• Part II Shakespeare’s Erotic Power of Imagination

Chapter 3: Erotic fancy/fantasy in Venus and Adonis, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Antony and Cleopatra. François Laroque (University of Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Chapter 4: Erotic perspectives : when Pyramus and Thisbe meet Hero and Leander in Romeo and Juliet. Janice Valls-Russell (IRCL and University Montpellier III)

• Part III Shakespeare’s Erotic Power of Recreation (and Miscreation)
Parodic Interactions with Darker Desires
Chapter 5: Priapus in Shakespeare: luxuriant gardens and luxurious brothels. Frederic Delord (IRCL and University Montpellier III)

Chapter 6: Parody and the Erotic Beast: Relocating Titania and Bottom. Stuart Sillars (University of Bergen)
Flirting with Erotic Taboos
Chapter 7:  Cupid, Infantilism and Maternal Desire on the Early Modern Stage. Jane Kingsley-Smith (Roehampton University)

Chapter 8: Queering Pygmalion: Ovid, Euripides and The Winter’s Tale. Sarah-Annes Brown (Anglia Ruskin University)

Deadly Rapture

Chapter 9: The ‘new Gorgon’: Eros, Terror and Violence in Macbeth. Marguerite Tassi (University of Nebraska – Kearney)

Coda: Femmina masculo e masculo femmina: Ovidian mythical structures, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and As You Like It. Yves Peyré (IRCL and University Montpellier III)