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Anne Sophie Refskou

Lecturer in Theatre and Performance

Academic and research departments

My publications


Refskou A, Thomasen LS (2014) Handling the Theme of Hands in Early Modern Cross-over Contexts, Early Modern Culture Online 5 pp. 31-51
Early modern culture incorporated the human hand
into a large number of different visual-textual
contexts: in religious imagery, in scientific
illustrations, in manuals of various disciplines, as
manicules in manuscripts and printed books, and
with several functional and/or figurative
significances in the literature and drama of the
period. Hands seem to be thrusting themselves into
these contexts as powerful reminders of a human
agency, which is often both somatic and spiritual at
the same time: in the human hand, relations
between body and mind converge and contest in
complex and multiple ways. As described by Claire
Sherman in the exhibition catalogue Writing on
Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern
Europe, the early modern hand is ?a meeting place
of matter, mind, and spirit?. This meeting
place is, in several different ways, the implied
setting for the following article. Some hands, such as
Albrecht Dürer?s Praying Hands (1508) or
Michelangelo?s meeting hands of God and Adam on
the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1508-1512), have
become enduring and familiar icons of visual
culture; and of course, Dürer?s and Michelangelo?s
hands are found within religious contexts in which
the hand has always played vital roles related to
matter, mind and spirit. However, besides the vast
field of religious studies, there are more and other
hands offering rich sites for exploring early modern
chiasms of body and mind. In the following
analyses of examples from early English cross-over
contexts, our purpose is to highlight and discuss the
ways in which the hand and in particular two of its most familiar functions ? pointing and touching ?
may illuminate wider epistemological discourses
that shift back and forth throughout the period:
discourses on what a human being is and how
humans perceive and understand the world they
live in. Central here are questions as to how and
where human perception and cognition take place;
in the mind or in the body; or to be more precise:
how bodies and minds are understood in relation to
each other by early modern thinkers. We present an investigation of a selection of
examples which span the dramatic writing of the
period: from issues of the hand in two early
Shakespearean tragedies, Titus Andronicus (c. 1594)
and Romeo and Juliet (c. 1597), to Hamlet (c. 1602);
to the medical sciences, William Harvery?s de Motu
Cordis (1628); and to John Bulwer?s manuals on
gesture, Chirologia and Chironomia (1644). Extracts
from Bulwer?s manuals are a
Refskou A (2015) Compassionate Perception and Touching Experiences in Shakespearean Drama, Critical Survey 27 (1) pp. 60-84 Berghahn Journals
This article explores examples of emotion and perception in a number of
Shakespearean dramas. It discusses compassionate perception as a
process of synaesthesia, referring to recent theoretical strands from fields
such as the cultural history of emotions and historical phenomenology,
and consults early modern sources, such as Thomas Wright?s The
Passions of the Minde in Generall (first published in 1601). Focusing
especially on the relation between compassion ? here literally defined as
shared emotion ? and tactility, it discusses what the familiar notion of
being emotionally ?touched? (or ?moved?) implies in an early modern
context. Locating ?touching experiences?, potentially produced by
performances of plays such as Titus Andronicus, the article, at the same
time, places such experiences in the context of contemporaneous
contesting cultural discourses on whether such experiences might be
considered beneficial and instructive to the minds and bodies in the
auditorium or whether they might have the reverse effect as both morally
and physically corruptive.
Refskou A (2017) Whose castle is it anyway? Local/global negotiations of a Shakespearean location, Multicultural Shakespeare 15 (1) pp. 121-132 De Gruyter Open
Kronborg Castle in the Danish town of Elsinore is a location strongly associated with Shakespeare thanks to the setting of Hamlet. It is a place where fiction currently eclipses history, at least in the context of a cultural tourist industry where Shakespeare?s name is worth a great deal more than Danish national heritage sites. Indeed, Kronborg is now widely marketed as ?Hamlet?s Castle? and the town of Elsinore has acquired the suffix ?Home of Hamlet?. This article examines the signifiers implied in the naming and renaming of Kronborg as a Shakespearean location, while also looking at its unique international Shakespearean performance tradition, which spans two centuries. It describes how the identity of the castle has been shaped by its Shakespearean connection against the backdrop of changing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and poses questions as to how this identity may continue to develop within the current contexts of renewed nationalism in Europe and the world.