Reviving Lavinia

Aquatic Imagery and Ecocritical Complexity in Titus Andronicus

in Critical Survey
Author: Claire Hansen1
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  • 1 James Cook University
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This article revives the agency of Lavinia in Titus Andronicus through a blended ecocritical and complexivist approach. A ‘blue' ecocritical lens identifies Lavinia's alignment with aquatic imagery, and tracks the development of this imagery across four main phases in the play: human tears, a river, a flood, and a freeze. These phases broadly map onto different modes of ecological relations as the play explores alternative patterns of human-environmental interactions. Lavinia is reinterpreted as an active and independent complex ecosystem, and one capable of communicating through the same aquatic imagery which is utilised in the narrative to attempt to contain and commodify her. Titus's aquatic discourse finds parallels in our own climate crises, in ongoing problematic associations between women and nature, and in our need to generate new models of agency and ecological relations.

Contributor Notes

Claire Hansen is a Lecturer in English and Writing at James Cook University and a researcher on the Shakespeare Reloaded project. Her book, Shakespeare and Complexity Theory, was published by Routledge in 2017. Claire has previously taught at the University of Sydney, University of Wollongong and University of New England. Her research interests include early modern drama and literature, pedagogy, place-based learning, complexity theory, and ecocriticism.


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