Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Date of Award

9-2013

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

English

First Advisor

Arthur F. Kinney

Second Advisor

Joseph L. Black

Third Advisor

Anne Lake Prescott

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | Linguistics | Philosophy

Abstract

This dissertation investigates Shakespeare as a thinker and views the stage as a place of linguistic and philosophical questioning. As Charles Schmitt and Quentin Skinner suggest in Renaissance Philosophy, "the Renaissance was one of intense philosophical activity" (1), and I suggest that Shakespeare's use of language, his tool of trade, engages with these contemporary philosophical debates. Language becomes for Shakespeare an epistemologic site of investigation: What is the nature of language? How does language both construct and challenge the understanding of what is known? Simultaneously, how does language contribute to the evolution of knowledge, and can language itself be one of the forms that knowledge takes? This dissertation explores the complex ways in which Shakespeare dramatizes on stage this profound early modern preoccupation on the nature of language.

Share

COinS