The Introduction consists of a brief overview of the book and its structure, its driving questions and the critical contexts, and identifies foundational aspects of an Irish poetics of space. The Introduction describes the book’s organization—largely chronological—to show how Ireland’s spatial poetics developed over 500 years in response to specific historical circumstances. Three major issues are introduced, which are tracked across the book to illustrate ongoing thematic continuities and developments: (1) affective and transformative engagement with textual geographies; (2) national and postcolonial place-writing strategies; and (3) canonization and theorization of a spatial literary corpus. In addition, each chapter develops discrete aspects of writing place in conjunction with a critical literature on space (pilgrimage, actual and virtual, through otherworldly landscapes and seascapes; exile and dislocation; verbal mapping or cartography; movement as knowledge-generating, i.e. ‘practicing place’; alterity, place-writing and conquest).
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance
of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two
audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.