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The Storm at SeaPolitical Aesthetics in the Time of Shakespeare$
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Christopher Pye

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265046

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265046.001.0001

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Aesthetics and Absolutism in The Winter’s Tale

Aesthetics and Absolutism in The Winter’s Tale

(p.125) Chapter 5 Aesthetics and Absolutism in The Winter’s Tale
The Storm at Sea

Christopher Pye

Fordham University Press

A Winter’s Tale and The Tempest focus on sovereignty as a specifically early modern form, which is to say sovereignty as it is constituted in the kind of signifying universe implied by Othello. The problem of autonomy—the autonomy of the sovereign, the autonomy of the subject—is directly related to the outright way in which these late works self-consciously present themselves as inclusive and self-grounding aesthetic forms, which is to say works that incorporate the audience in their necessarily unstable performative effects. In Winter’s Tale, the focus of chapter five, the possibility of sovereign agency depends ultimately on an articulation between the categories of aesthetics and law, an articulation necessitated by the illimitable character of both. The close of the play hinges on the possibility of maintaining a ratio between law and art, which also means a space for subjectivity as such.

Keywords:   A Winter’s Tale, Sovereignty, Absolutism, Law, Aesthetics, Schmitt, Autonomy

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