Intermingling illustration and text: hyper-illuminated criticism of

This page uses only small ornamentation, but electronic criticism has the potential to offer illustrations as pervasively in criticism as they once appeared in nineteenth-century "Shakspeare" texts. The examples I offer here of inventive text and image design thus derive from an undated nineteenth-century text, extensively illustrated by Kenny Meadows. These texts use engravings to frame particular speeches like Rosalind's epilogue (64k) or the opening to Act V of Timon of Athens (80k), to intervene in the actual script in the case of Hamlet's first meeting with the ghost (51k) and to overhang the page as grossly as Falstaff's belly (40k). Such images can even mark intrusions or disruptions in the text, as in the opening of Act IV in Merchant of Venice or in A Midsummer Night's Dream. These nineteenth-century strategies for illuminating the Shakespearean text certainly deserve critical attention in their own right, but I offer them here principally to illustrate relationships between text and image which can enrich electronic essays about Shakespeare's plays. That enrichment is, however, problematic despite the arguments I am offering because of potential image distortion (49k).

Even more often illustrations of particular scenes or actors and actresses decorated 19th century performance editions and other texts without any attempt at proximity to the moment in the play supposedly represented. With the ability to import images and link them, Shakespearean critics can discuss Viola's encounters with Olivia (58k) or Titania's embraces of Bottom (54k) and embed those images where needed. Even more usefully, we can explore illustration-specific arguments like the contrast in nineteenth-century singular portraits which alternately illuminate particular actors in a role like Othello (84k) or Richard III (39k) in contrast to the invented portraits of female characters like Cleopatra (47k) or Titania (44k).

If you have any comments, please send them to Laurie Osborne.

breaking out of the text