Theatre Survey

Shakespeare and Beyond

Gesture in Medieval Drama and Art. Edited by Clifford Davidson. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001; pp. xii + 239, 48 plates, 28 illustrations. $15 hardcover

Donnalee Dox a1
a1 Texas A&M University

The aim of this superb volume is a deeper understanding of physical gesture in European drama and art. Rarely does a collection approach a topic with such commitment and clarity. At a time when theatre historiography construes bodies as cultural constructions or as signifiers of power relationships, these authors delve into the communicative potential of bodies in motion. The eight essays are uniformly incisive in their analyses, convincing in their arguments, and elegant in expression. Each contributor sets in motion a different set of problems and critical perspectives, use of sources, and analytical strategies. Within these variations, a common concern for the performative qualities of gesture (beyond linguistic or pictorial referentiality) gives the volume its organic unity.