In Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds, Carole Levin and John
Watkins focus on the relationship between the London-based
professional theater preeminently associated with William
Shakespeare and an unprecedented European experience of geographic,
social, and intellectual mobility. Shakespeare's plays bear the
marks of exile and exploration, rural depopulation, urban
expansion, and shifting mercantile and diplomatic configurations.
He fills his plays with characters testing the limits of personal
identity: foreigners, usurpers, outcasts, outlaws, scolds, shrews,
witches, mercenaries, and cross-dressers.
Through parallel discussions of Henry VI, The
Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice,
Levin and Watkins argue that Shakespeare's centrality to English
national consciousness is inseparable from his creation of the
foreign as a category asserting dangerous affinities between
England's internal minorities and its competitors within an
increasingly fraught European mercantile system.
As a women's historian, Levin is particularly interested in
Shakespeare's responses to marginalized sectors of English society.
As a scholar of English, Italian Studies, and Medieval Studies,
Watkins situates Shakespeare in the context of broadly European
historical movements. Together Levin and Watkins narrate the
emergence of the foreign as portable category that might be applied
both to "strangers" from other countries and to native-born English
men and women, such as religious dissidents, who resisted
conformity to an increasingly narrow sense of English identity.
Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds will appeal to historians,
literary scholars, theater specialists, and anyone interested in
Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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