Bringing together recent scholarship on religion and the spatial imagination, Kristen Poole examines how changing religious beliefs and transforming conceptions of space were mutually informative in the decades around 1600. Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare's England explores a series of cultural spaces that focused attention on interactions between the human and the demonic or divine: the deathbed, purgatory, demonic contracts and their spatial surround, Reformation cosmologies and a landscape newly subject to cartographic surveying. It examines the seemingly incongruous coexistence of traditional religious beliefs and new mathematical, geometrical ways of perceiving the environment. Arguing that the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century stage dramatized the phenomenological tension that resulted from this uneasy confluence, this groundbreaking study considers the complex nature of supernatural environments in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth and The Tempest.
Kristen Poole is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Delaware. She specializes in the religious culture and literature of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. She is the author of Radical Religion from Shakespeare to Milton: Figures of Nonconformity in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and has published articles in numerous scholarly journals.
Prologue: setting - and unsettling - the stage; Introduction: the space of the supernatural; 1. The devil's in the archive: Ovidian physics and Doctor Faustus; 2. Scene at the deathbed: Ars Moriendi, Othello, and envisioning the supernatural; 3. When hell freezes over: the fabulous Mount Hecla and Hamlet's infernal geography; 4. Metamorphic cosmologies: the world according to Calvin, Hooker, and Macbeth; 5. Divine geometry in a geodetic age: surveying, God, and The Tempest; Epilogue: re-enchanting geography.