SEL Special Issue: Staging Allegory, essays due Sept 1, 2013

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Studies in English Literature 1500-1900
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Special Issue: Staging Allegory (Spring 2015)

ESSAYS DUE: September 1, 2013

When in a recent essay entitled "The Medieval" Fredric Jameson describes the great "crisis in representation" indexed by medieval allegory, he refers to Dante's "representational dilemma" that "the poet's language must act out what can, in any case, never be representationally expressed or rendered" (Jameson, "The Medieval" in The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages [Durham NC: Duke Univ. Press, 2010]; my emphasis). Jameson was by no means literally referring to theater, and yet what is the force of this metaphor of language that "acts out"? If language is neither merely active nor merely troublesome but prone to acting, what might be said of the theatricality of allegory and about allegorical works that think deeply about the nature of theater?

This special issue will take as its focus the intersection of allegory and the stage in early modern England. In spite of some notable exceptions, theories of allegory tend to dwell on poetry, prose, and other modalities of language while theories of early modern theatricality tend to neglect allegory. Those steeped in Walter Benjamin's The Origin of German Tragic Drama tend to be less interested in what theater brings to conversations about allegory and what happens to the symbolic and linguistic properties of allegory when staged. Even scholarship on quasi-allegorical works, such as the masque, tends not to foreground or conceptualize allegory except incidentally. As such, the body of writing on theater and allegory in early modernity is relatively limited.

The hope of this topic is to draw together scholars who might not always sit at the same table including those interested in Medieval and Renaissance theater history, performance studies, theories and histories of allegory, and, more broadly, genre, and cultural and critical theories, among others. Topics for this special issue may include but are not limited to allegory and anti-theatricality; allegorical stage plays of the Renaissance; Medieval irruptions of allegory on the Renaissance stage; allegorical moments in non-allegorical plays; religion and allegory on the post-Reformation stage; character, personification, and the (non)human on the stage; stage properties and allegorical objects; allegory, emblem, and the tension between visuality and textuality; economy and allegory; gender, sexuality, and the staging of allegory.

Manuscripts should be submitted online at:

Please be sure to mention that the submission is intended for the Staging Allegory Special Issue in a cover letter that is uploaded into the system or by typing directly into the cover letter field. General submission guidelines are available in the system under the Instructions and Forms tab or on the journal's web site at

Questions may be directed to:

Dr. Joseph Campana
Department of English MS-30
Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston TX 77005