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The Mind-Body StagePassion and Interaction in the Cartesian Theater$
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R. Darren Gobert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804786386

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804786386.001.0001

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Cartesian Design; or, Anatomies of the Theater

Cartesian Design; or, Anatomies of the Theater

(p.121) 4 Cartesian Design; or, Anatomies of the Theater
The Mind-Body Stage

R. Darren Gobert

Stanford University Press

This chapter concerns theater architecture after Descartes. In Cartesian theory, the physiology of perception (which Descartes calls “representation”) is connected with the physiology of emotion (which represents feeling by means of animal spirits in the blood vessels). Jean Racine's Phèdre stages this tension between ocular and sanguinary representation, but the play's precise theatrical meanings are determined by the anatomies of the theaters in which it is enacted. As they developed more ocular shapes and corneal proscenium arches, these theaters collectively traced the development of Cartesian theater architecture. Three theater designs are anatomized: Paris's Hôtel de Bourgogne, the original Comédie-Française (designed by François d'Orbay), and London's Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket (designed by John Vanbrugh and home to Phèdre's English première in an adaptation by Edmund Smith).

Keywords:   Descartes, Racine, Phèdre, theater architecture, Hôtel de Bourgogne, Queen's Theatre, François d'Orbay, John Vanbrugh, Edmund Smith, intersubjectivity

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