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The Invention of SuspicionLaw and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama$
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Lorna Hutson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212439

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212439.001.0001

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Rethinking Foucault: The Juridical Epistemology of English Renaissance Drama

Rethinking Foucault: The Juridical Epistemology of English Renaissance Drama

Chapter:
(p.64) 2 Rethinking Foucault: The Juridical Epistemology of English Renaissance Drama
Source:
The Invention of Suspicion
Author(s):

Lorna Hutson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212439.003.0003

This chapter considers the influence on the criticism of English Renaissance drama of Michel Foucault's analysis of penal torture as part of the early modern state's appropriation of the juridical epistemology of the medieval Church. It argues that the application of the Foucauldian model to English Renaissance drama disregards significant differences between developments in English and French criminal law in the 16th century, most notably the fact that in the English system, proofs were not arithmetically codified and applied by professional judges, but were left to the discretion of the jury. The chapter considers the vernacular dissemination of a language of probability in rhetoric and justicing manuals, and surveys the arguments for and against the early modern jury's capacity to weigh evidence. It concludes, by demonstrating, through a reading of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, how disclosure in Renaissance dramatic narrative conforms to the model of jury trial.

Keywords:   jury, Foucault, witness, proof, evidence, probability, suspicion, Justice of Peace, Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus

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