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Essaying Shakespeare

Essaying Shakespeare

Karen Newman
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Essaying Shakespeare
    Book Description:

    For more than twenty-five years, Karen Newman has brought her critical acumen to bear on early modern studies. In this collection of her essays on Shakespeare—some acknowledged classics and others never before published—Newman shows how changing theoretical trends have shaped Shakespeare studies, from new historicism and gender studies to critical race studies and globalization.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6809-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxii)

    Essaying Shakespeare brings together work written and published over the past twenty-five years during what has been an intensely productive period for Shakespeare and early modern studies. It also offers several new essays that have not yet appeared in print and ends with a prolegomenon for new work under way. The so-called linguistic or poststructuralist turn, psychoanalysis, new historicism and cultural materialism, feminist literary criticism and gender studies, cultural studies, critical race theory, the history of sexuality, English nationalism and colonial expansion, visual culture, print culture, and the appropriation of and globalization of Shakespeare, among other topics of critical and...

  5. 1 MYRRHA’S REVENGE: Ovid and Shakespeare’s Reluεtant Adonis
    (pp. 1-12)

    In all the controversy over Shakespeare’s Venus andAdonis,commentators agree on one issue: “Shakespeare’s Adonis, contrary to the whole tradition, scorns love.”¹ This fundamental change in the myth has never been satisfactorily explained, for though Adonis complies with Venus’s desires in the earliest versions, in the Ovidian account that is generally regarded as Shakespeare’s primary source, we are told almost nothing of Adonis’s response to her advances except that he does not reject them outright.²

    Critics have advanced various biographical, historical, and literary arguments to explain Shakespeare’s unwilling Adonis. At the time Shakespeare wrote and publishedVenus and Adonis,...

    (pp. 13-22)

    Painters and illustr ators ofHamletchoose to render the play scene (3.2) more frequently than any other scene from the play, and these visual renderings are remarkably similar in their organization of figures and action, from the eighteenth century through to the present day.

    Francis Hayman’s drawing for Hanmer’s illustrated Shakespeare of 1744 (Figure 1 ) establishes the central conventions that are repeated so consistently into the twentieth century: the “murder of Gonzago” is placed back center stage, with two groups ranged on either side, Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius on the one, Hamlet, Horatio, and Ophelia on the other....

    (pp. 23-37)

    Wetherden, Suffolk. Plough Monday,1604. A drunken tanner, Nicholas Rosyer, staggers home from the alehouse. On arriving at his door, he is greeted by his wife with “dronken dogg, pisspott and other unseemly names.” When Rosyer tried to come to bed with her, she “still raged against him and badd him out dronken dogg dronken pisspott.” She struck him several times, clawed his face and arms, spit at him and beat him out of bed. Rosyer retreated, returned to the alehouse, and drank until he could hardly stand up. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Quarry and others met and “agreed amongest themselfs...

  8. 4 “AND WASH THE ETHIOP WHITE”: Femininity and the Monstrous in Othello
    (pp. 38-58)

    To wash an Ethiop white” is an ancient proverb used to express impossibility and bootless labor. Scholars speculate that it originated with Aesop, where the image of scrubbing an Ethiopian is used to demonstrate the power and permanence of nature. The proverb was common in Greek, and in Latin took the form “abluis Aethiopem: quid frustra” (you wash an Aethiopian: why the labor in vain). Figure 11 , an emblem from Geoffrey Whitney’s widely circulated emblem book, AChoice of Emblemes(Leyden, 1586), moralizes the proverb in the poem printed beneath the woodcut.¹ The expression was proverbial in early modern...

  9. 5 PORTIA’S RING: Gender, Sexuality, and Theories of Exchange in The Merchant of Venice
    (pp. 59-76)

    Across disciplinary boundaries, transhistorically, and in varied media, Western feminists have reproduced the paradigm of woman as object of exchange developed most influentially in anthropology.¹ In the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s often cited formulation fromThe Elementary Structures of Kinship:

    The total relationship of exchange which constitutes marriage is not established between a man and a woman . . . but between two groups of men, and the woman figures as one of the objects in the exchange, not as one of the partners.²

    The paradigm has been both productive and seductive, made available to many through Gayle Rubin’s for...

  10. 6 GHOSTWRITING: Hamlet and Claude Chabrol’s Ophélia
    (pp. 77-84)

    Along shot of a typical French manor house draped in funereal black. The camera cuts to a close-up: the face of a corpse in a coffin; a reverse shot places us in the coffin itself, peering out first at the widow who approaches and lifts her heavy black veil; then at a young man, evidently her son, who steps to her side; finally at an older man who joins her on the other side. The coffin closes; the screen goes black for several seconds. The scene cuts to mourners bearing the coffin into a church. When the door closes and...

  11. 7 ENGLISHING THE OTHER: “Le tiers exclu” and Shakespeare’s Henry V
    (pp. 85-95)

    At his departure in search of a northwest passage, the English explorer Martin Frobisher was exhorted by Queen Elizabeth to bring back some of the native peoples he encountered on his voyage. Elizabeth betrayed her characteristic ambivalence toward colonial enterprise: she desired to see the “spectacle of strangeness” but at the same time ordered Frobisher not to compel the Indians against their wills. In his account of the voyage (1577), Frobisher reveals that despite Elizabeth’s warning he laid hold of his captive forcibly. Worried about the well-being of his “strange and new prey,” he also took a woman captive for...

  12. 8 CULTURAL CAPITAL’S GOLD STANDARD: Shakespeare and the Critical Apostrophe in Renaissance Studies
    (pp. 96-110)

    Recent critiques of new historicism and cultural poetics complain that for all their attention to noncanonical texts—historical, scientific, popular, written from the “margins”—Shakespeare and Milton remain the signal points of reference of most of these investigations. Typically, it is argued, such essays marshal and analyze a host of texts once considered “nonliterary”— diaries, cookbooks, anatomies, travelogues, court cases, pamphlets, wills, texts written by women—but the pay-off is analysis of a canonical author, more often than not, Shakespeare.¹ In what follows, I want to examine that critique and its assumptions, first, by considering carefully what constitutes “cultural capital”...

    (pp. 111-122)

    At least since the thirties, when L. C. Knights published his wittily titled essay “How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?,” the study of Shakespearean character has been concerned to debunk the naive inclination to talk or write about characters as if they were real people with human personalities.¹ Here is Harry Berger Jr.’s powerful articulation of this position:

    Speakers are the effects rather than the causes of their language and our interpretation: in the unperformed Shakespeare text there are no characters, no persons, no bodies, no interiorities; there are only dramatis personae, the masks through which the text speaks. ....

  14. 10 SARTORIAL ECONOMIES AND SUITABLE STYLE: The Anonymous Woodstock and Shakespeare’s Richard II
    (pp. 123-135)

    Richard II’s decision at act 1, scene 4 of Shakespeare’s play to go “in person to this war” is framed by two moments in which clothing plays an important symbolic role. First, the king recounts how Bolingbroke leaves London to banishment abroad courting the common people, “wooing poor craftsmen with the craft of smiles” and doffing “his bonnet to an oysterwench” as if he were “our subjects next degree in hope.”¹ Bolingbroke’s doffed bonnet points up clothing’s role in showing deference and status in social relations. In doffing his cap to a street seller, Bolingbroke reverses conventional status hierarchies. Second,...

  15. 11 FRENCH SHAKESPEARE: Dryden, Vigny’s Othello, and British Cultural Expansion
    (pp. 136-150)

    Le monolinguisme de l’autre ou la prothèse de l’origine, Jacques Derrida’s meditation on linguistic and cultural identity, considers the paradox “I have but one language—yet that language is not mine” or, in a different formulation, “One never speaks but one language / one never speaks only one language.” As the Stanford University Press catalog blurb for the English translation observes, the book is first a theoretical inquiry into the relation between persons and their “own” language, a word the catalog copy puts in scare quotes, an inquiry that meditates on the “structural limits, desires, and interdictions inherent in such...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 151-188)
    (pp. 189-190)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 191-200)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)