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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

4 - Cyber-Shakespeare


We are today as far into the electric age as the Elizabethans had advanced into the typographical and mechanical age. And we are experiencing the same confusions and indecisions which they had felt when living simultaneously in two contrasted forms of society and experience.

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1)

Think about its specifications. A book:

boots instantly

has a high-contrast, high-resolution display

is viewable from any angle, in bright or dim light

permits fast random access to any page

provides instant visual and tactile feedback on the location

can be easily annotated

requires no batteries or maintenance

is robustly packaged

A laptop meets exactly none of those specifications. If the book had been invented after the laptop it would be hailed as a great breakthrough. It's not technophobic to prefer to read a book; it's entirely sensible. The future of computing lies back in a book.

Neil Gershenfeld, When Things Start to Think (13–14)

In Shakespearean and the Force of Modern Performance, I have taken a “performative” view of some dimensions of modern dramatic performance, considering how attitudes and behaviors, formalities of space and embodiment outside the text shape what the text does in action, as performance today. A “performative” understanding of “speech acts,” especially when those acts are restricted to the scripted acts of drama, depends on an understanding of language and enactment dynamically inflected by writing, and by the technologies of print.

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