In the current study of Shakespearean drama, historical approaches have been supplemented by phenomenological attention to the ways human actors relate to their settings across time. Thinking phenomenologically, I use affordance theory to understand hospitality as both a theme in Shakespearean drama and a framing of the enterprise of theater. The concept of affordance was developed by the environmental psychologist James J. Gibson to describe the action possibilities of things. Affordances inhere in environments that themselves reflect various human interactions and routines. Affordances have entered into theater studies as both an aid to historicism and a way of considering plays outside their original contexts. My main example of affordances in Shakespearean drama is Perdita's offering of flowers to her guests in the sheepshearing episode of The Winter's Tale. Her two floral offerings, the first culled from the kitchen garden and handed to her disguised guests as hostess gifts and the second constructed purely out of language for the benefit of her lover Florizel, manifest a range of affordances. These include the culinary virtues of herbs, the emotional and theatrical resources of social scripts, and the affinities between poetic expression and autopoietic growth.

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