University of Leicester
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Social Shakespeare: Aspects of Shakespearean dramaturgy and contemporary society.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:01 authored by Peter J. Smith
'Social Shakespeare' is a contribution to the politicising process of Shakespearean studies which has occurred in the lost ten years as a result of the increasing force of literary and cultural theory. The study aims at a distinct refocussing of political criticism upon the Shakespearean text as realised in performance. The first part, 'Genre and Imagery', sets out the critical agenda and methodology and situates the study in relation to more traditional criticism in terms of the generic definitions of Comedy and Tragedy. It attempts a political reading of these 'literary' definitions by discussing their ideological context. The third chapter examines the epistemological uncertainties of the early modern period by examining the device of gendered landscape imagery. Part Two, 'Dramaturgy and Language', reads specific plays in terms of this procedural explication. Chapter V explores the notion of drama occurring at the boundaries of the conscious and the unconscious mind. But it extends this idea by considering the manner in which private fantasy is appropriated and anticipated by certain ideological forces. The sixth chapter considers how a particular kind of speaking is politically subversive and thus how a linguistic, or a 'merely' formal, analysis is inseparable from social analysis. The final part, 'Society and Culture', considers issues of anti-Semitism and homophobia in the light of historical circumstances and modern theatre practice. The final chapter discusses the cultural mythologising of the Bard principally by the state apparatuses of education and theatre. The title of 'Social Shakespeare' alludes to Political Shakespeare edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Manchester, 1985). 'Social Shakespeare' is designed to refine and promote the practice of political criticism while embarking on the broader study of Shakespearean drama in its fully social context.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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