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‘Musty Superfluity’: Coriolanus and the Remains of Excess | Early Modern & Open Access

By March 8, 2015 No Comments
This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Peter Holland, ‘Musty Superfluity’: Coriolanus and the Remains of Excess , Actes des congrès de la Société Française Shakespeare, 25 | 2007, 89-101.


In I.i Caius Martius greets the news of imminent war with joy: ‘Then we shall ha’ means to vent / Our musty superfluity.’ From early modern socio-political analysis through Marx to the present, the question of excess and waste within the state has been of crucial concern. Coriolanus is in part Shakespeare’s exploration of what constitute the politics of social excess and how social organisms negotiate with the problem of waste management, be it the economics of the marketplace (one sense of ‘vent’), sewerage (another sense of the word), or people. At the same time, the play is itself formally constituted within a series of structural negotiations with excess, superfluity, waste and the implications of remains within language, character, cast-size and scenic form (among other modes of formal structuring). This paper explores the play’s interactions between the political and the formal as representations of what to do with too much, how to deal with the remains of excess.

Shani Bans

Author Shani Bans

Shani Bans is an assistant editor at TSS and a PhD candidate at University College London. Her thesis, 'Optics in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries' - explores the relationship between optics and literature in early modern Europe, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her other interests include: the culture of dissection in early modern drama, representation of ugly women; early modern science, medicine and technology; the history of Shakespearean criticism; Sidney circle; Miguel de Cervantes, Michel de Montaigne; Virginia Woolf; Hergé; Derrida and epistolarity.

More posts by Shani Bans

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