'[Overhearing]': Printing Parentheses and Reading Power in Ben Jonson’s Sejanus

Ian Burrows


This essay posits that the earliest printed edition of Sejanus shows how power is not inherent to particular statements or actions, but apprehended, rather, in their relationships to the responses around them. Conventionally, critics find the emperor Tiberius to be in control of events in the play, and textual scholars argue that Jonson shapes the text in order to ensure this interpretation. Here, though, I show how techniques of marking parentheses present different kinds of onlooking and overhearing on the page, and I suggest that these techniques mark a strategy of allowing and sustaining multiple interpretations of Jonson’s Tiberius.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12745/et.20.2.2811

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