Bodies and selves
autoscopy, out-of-body experiences, mind-wandering and early modern consciousness
Jan Purnis considers altered states of consciousness, how they are portrayed in literary and dramatic texts, and how they shed light on early modern conceptions of embodiment and selfhood. This divisibility of consciousness is expressed in autoscopic experience through the phenomenon of the double, an experience described by Aristotle's story of Antipheron, and explored in a number of twin plays, including Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors. Citing Lacan, Purnis links autoscopic illusions to mirror ideas in Hamlet, and turning to out-of-body experiences, Purnis offers historical examples linked to the early modern idea of ecstasy and "being beside oneself" in The Winter's Tale, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Merchant of Venice. Finally, mind-wandering is examined as a sub-category of ecstasy and daydreaming.
Purnis, J. (2016)., Bodies and selves: autoscopy, out-of-body experiences, mind-wandering and early modern consciousness, in P. Budra & C. Werier (eds.), Shakespeare and consciousness, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 191-213.
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