Is Shakespeare English, British, neither or both? Addressing from various angles the relation of the figure of the national poet/dramatist to constructions of England and Englishness this collection of essays probes the complex issues raised by this question, first through explorations of his plays, principally though not exclusively the histories (Part One), then through discussion of a range of subsequent appropriations and reorientations of Shakespeare and 'his' England (Part Two). If Shakespeare has been taken to stand for Britain as well as England, as if the two were interchangeable, this double identity has come under increasing strain with the break-up - or shake-up - of Britain through devolution and the end of Empire. Essays in Part One examine how the fissure between English and British identities is probed in Shakespeare's own work, which straddles a vital juncture when an England newly independent from Rome was negotiating its place as part of an emerging British state and empire. Essays in Part Two then explore the vexed relations of 'Shakespeare' to constructions of authorial identity as well as national, class, gender and ethnic identities. At this crucial historical moment, between the restless interrogations of the tercentenary celebrations of the Union of Scotland and England in 2007 and the quatercentenary celebrations of the death of the bard in 2016, amid an increasing clamour for a separate English parliament, when the end of Britain is being foretold and when flags and feelings are running high, this collection has a topicality that makes it of interest not only to students and scholars of Shakespeare studies and Renaissance literature, but to readers inside and outside the academy interested in the drama of national identities in a time of transition.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: 'To England send him': repatriating Shakespeare, Willy Maley and Margaret Tudeau-Clayton; Part 1 This England: Pericles and the language of national origins, Thomas Roebuck and Laurie Maguire; 'And bloody England into England gone': empire, monarchy and nation in King John, Willy Maley; The 'true-born Englishman': Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, and the future history of (the) English, Margaret Tudeau-Clayton; 'Eat a leek': Welsh corrections, English conditions, and British cultural communion, Allison M. Outland; 'O, lawful let it be/That I have room ... to curse awhile': voicing the nation's conscience in female complaint in Richard III, King John and Henry VIII, Alison Thorne. Part 2 That Shakespeare: Imagining England: contemporary encodings of 'this sceptred isle', Sarah Grandage; Shakespeare Eurostar: Calais, the Continent, and the operatic fortunes of Ambroise Thomas, Ton Hoenselaars and Clara Calvo; 'Not a man from England': assimilating the exotic 'other' through performance, from Henry IV to Henry VI, Amanda Penlington; A nation of selves: Ted Hughes's Shakespeare, Neil Corcoran; Shakespeare-land, Graham Holderness; Afterword: one of those days in England, Andrew Hadfield; Works cited; Index.
'a valuable and stimulating set of contributions which will be a welcome addition to the current stable of "national" Shakespeare work ...' Lisa Hopkins, Sheffield Hallam University, UK and author of Shakespeare on the Edge 'Concentrating mainly but not exclusively on history plays and on various later cultural uses of the figure of Shakespeare, the essays complement each other nicely, and collectively offer a valuable and stimulating set of contributions which is a welcome addition to the current stable of 'national' Shakespeare work, while at the same time making it clear that there is room for much more work in this area. ... The essays work well collectively as well as individually to make the volume a satisfying whole rather than merely the sum of its parts...' Review of English Studies