Renæssanceforum 13 • 2018

Ulla Kallenbach
Feigning History: The early modern imagination and the theatre

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This article will examine the conception of imagination in relation to the theatrical mirroring of history in an early modern English context. While imagination was conceived as an essential cognitive capacity, it was at the same time also the most fragile mental faculty – like a mirror of glass in which strange shadows appeared – within a precarious mental hierarchy that was always on the verge of collapsing. Theories of poetics accordingly sought to establish imagination either as being in league with the superior faculties of reason and memory, or conversely strived to demonstrate how it undermined them.