Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in English



First Advisor

Karen Raber

Second Advisor

Joseph P. Ward

Third Advisor

Mary Hayes

Relational Format



In "Generative Space: Embodiment and Identity at the Margins on the Early Modern Stage," I argue that the early modern stage provides a space in which emerging, marginal and unsanctioned identities can be shaped through the physical interactions between characters and their environments. Spaces that are marginalized on the stage, set apart from the main action of the play, or considered culturally or environmentally offensive, harbor figures that are not socially accepted or alloto exist legitimately outside of those spaces. This is in some ways liberating to the characters, but at the same time their identities are contingent upon the marginal spaces they inhabit. Such spaces are also shaped by physical and sensual interactions between the characters: sights, sounds, and smells move through these spaces in profoundly material ways that connect onlookers to the objects of their gazes or speakers to their audiences. Identities are shaped by the characters' bodily interactions with the spaces they inhabit; these interactions result in a self that is interconnected with the environment and the objects in it. The identities the characters are alloto express exist only temporarily within these generative spaces, but as they are represented on the stage, they ultimately find expression and legitimacy in public. My dissertation shows how space shapes identity and how bodies shape space.



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