Brown Bag talk with Lyn Tribble
“‘A Strange, Hollow, and Confused Noise’: Prospero’s Start and Early Modern Magical Practice”
In The Tempest, Prospero’s wedding masque fails. As its height of the spirits’ performance, he “starts suddenly and speaks, after which to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish.”
The reasons for Prospero’s start and its emotional aftermath are never fully explained in the play. In this talk Lyn Tribble will argue that we can explain Prospero’s psycho-physical state after the dissolution of the masque through two related avenues of inquiry. First, she will explore the ramifications of the start or startle itself, arguing that starts often occur on stage as characters emerge from an altered state. This point leads to a consideration of the way that early modern magical practitioners were trained to alter their states of consciousness in order to perform the emotionally gruelling labour of conjuring spirits.