"Am not I your Rosalind?": Ovidian Identity and Transformation in Shakespeare's "As You Like It"
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"'Am not I your Rosalind?': Negotiating Ovidian Identity and Transformation in Shakespeare's As You Like It" argues that the theatrical self-masquerade, that rare and uniquely Shakespearean moment in which a character explicitly plays a version of him or herself onstage, is an ideal site to explore the intersection of language, identity, and transformation. The self-masquerade foregrounds the intimate relationship between language and subjectivity, by enabling characters to fruitfully exploit language in order to imagine, stage, and enact their own identity constitution and transformation. Although many Shakespearean characters participate in disguise-making, only Rosalind (As You Like It) and Prince Hal (1 Henry IV) have the linguistic and imaginative capabilities to perform a self-masquerade. While the disguise relies upon overtly donning a costume or otherwise changing one's appearance to conceal a "true" identity, the self-masquerade does not feed off of the ignorance of others to generate the power and persuasiveness of its fiction. Just as the audience must participate in the fiction-making that occurs whenever they enter the space of the theater, the self-masquerade draws other characters onstage into its imaginative circle as active participants. The self-masquerade is not initiated by a simple announcement, nor indicated by a mere change in clothes, but instead must be perpetually enacted through language. Engaging with Jacques Lacan, Lynn Enterline, Stephen Greenblatt, Stanley Cavell, Valeria Finucci, Stuart Hall, Garrett Sullivan, Jean-François Lyotard and others, I argue that As You Like It goes beyond Shakespeare's earlier work to suggest that everyone has the capacity, via the self-transformative and self-constitutive power of speech, to enact genuine agency over their self-constitution and self-transformation as they like it.
DescriptionHonors thesis--Highest Distinction; Winner of the Bascom Headen Palmer Literary Prize; Winner of the Dale B.J. Randall Award for Dramatic Literature.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers