Turn-taking in Shakespeare

  • ISBN 13:


  • ISBN 10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 10/21/2019
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Oxford Textual Perspectives is a series of informative and provocative studies focused upon literary texts (conceived of in the broadest sense of that term) and the technologies, cultures, and communities that produce, inform, and receive them. It provides fresh interpretations of fundamental works and of the vital and challenging issues emerging in English literary studies. By engaging with the materiality of the literary text, its production, and reception history, and frequently testing and exploring the boundaries of the notion of text itself, the volumes in the series question familiar frameworks and provide innovative interpretations of both canonical and less well-known works.

Whenever people talk to one another there are at least two things going on at once. First, and most obviously, there is an exchange of speech. Second, and slightly less obviously, there is a negotiation about how that exchange is organised--about whose turn it is to talk at any given moment. Linguists call this second, organisational level of activity 'turn-taking' and since the late 1970s it has been central to the way in which spoken interaction is understood. In spite of its obvious relevance to the study of drama, however, turn-taking has received little attention from critics and editors of Shakespeare. Turn-taking in Shakespeare offers a fresh perspective on the dramatic text by reversing the priorities of traditional literary analysis. Rather than focussing on what characters say, it focuses on when they speak. Rather than focussing on how they talk, it focuses on how they gain access to the floor. Its central argument is that the turn-taking patterns of Shakespeare's plays are a part of what Emrys Jones has called their 'basic structural shaping'--as fundamental to dialogue as rhythm is to verse. The book investigates what it means for a character to speak in or out of turn, to interrupt or overlap with a previous speaker, to pause before speaking, or to fail to speak at all. It explores how these moments are--and are not--signalled by the Shakespearean text, how best to describe and understand them, and the implications of such questions for contemporary debates about editing, rhetoric, prosody, and early modern performance practices.

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