Word, Body, Power: A Reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden

  • Diego Saglia University of Parma
Keywords: Affect Theory, Rhetoric, Performativity, Deliberative discourse, Epideictic discourse, Judiciary discourse


This essay explores figurations of the body as the focus of operations of writing aimed at staging effects of power “in action”. To this end, it concentrates on significant (though chronologically and culturally distant) works such as Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Ariel Dorfman’s La muerte y la doncella (Death and the Maiden) in order to highlight a range of relevant formal features, semiotic traits, ideological configurations and affective structures. These categories delineate a rhetorical practice in which verbal representations of the body result in an ostension of power as a nexus of gesture and voice, action and speech. In particular, the body functions as a conflict zone, since the two works under examination posit it as a locus of confrontation between effects of power such as coercion and resistance, the concealment and revelation of truth, or masculinity and femininity. Accordingly, these texts offer exemplary instances of how writing the body constitutes an affectively charged performance of the physical as the meeting point of verbal effects and a nucleus of ideological and political agency – a body, in other words, that is both the subject of history and the object of multiple rhetorical operations and negotiations.


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Author Biography

Diego Saglia, University of Parma

Professore Associato di letteratura inglese presso l’Università di Parma e autore delle monografie Poetic Castles in Spain: British Romanticism and Figurations of Iberia (2000), I discorsi dell’esotico: l’oriente nel romanticismo britannico 1780-1830 (2002) e Lord Byron e le maschere della scrittura (2009). Con Beatrice Battaglia ha curato il volume di saggi Re-Drawing Austen: Picturesque Travels in Austenland (2004) e, con Laura Bandiera, British Romanticism and Italian Literature: Translating, Reviewing, Rewriting (2005). I suoi saggi sono comparsi in La questione romantica, Textual Practice, Studies in Romanticism, The Keats-Shelley Journal, Women’s Writing, Romanticism, European Romantic Review, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, ELH, Studies in the Novel, Gothic Studies, Rivista di letterature moderne e comparate, SEL e altre riviste internazionali. Il volume Byron e il segno plurale: tracce del sé, percorsi di scrittura, da lui curato nel 2011, ha ottenuto il premio 2012 della International Byron Society.


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How to Cite
Saglia, D. (2014). Word, Body, Power: A Reading of Shakespeare’s <i>Julius Caesar</i> and Ariel Dorfman’s <i>Death and the Maiden</i&gt;. Between, 4(7). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1198
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