Cambridge Catalogue  
  • Help
Home > Catalogue > Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought
Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought


  • Page extent: 302 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.62 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521768085)

This is the first collaborative volume to place Shakespeare's works within the landscape of early modern political thought. Until recently, literary scholars have not generally treated Shakespeare as a participant in the political thought of his time, unlike his contemporaries Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney. At the same time, historians of political thought have rarely turned their attention to major works of poetry and drama. A distinguished international and interdisciplinary team of contributors examines the full range of Shakespeare's writings in order to challenge conventional interpretations of plays central to the canon, such as Hamlet; open up novel perspectives on works rarely considered to be political, such as the Sonnets; and focus on those that have been largely neglected, such as The Merry Wives of Windsor. The result is a coherent and challenging portrait of Shakespeare's distinctive engagement with the characteristic questions of early modern political thought.

• Combines expertise from leading historians and literary scholars, offering the reader a new perspective in Shakespeare studies • Provides a broad introduction to the history of early modern political thought - ideal for readers with no background knowledge in this area • Covers the full range of Shakespeare's work, both poetry and plays, challenging conventional interpretations


Introduction David Armitage, Conal Condren and Andrew Fitzmaurice; Part I. Contexts: 1. Shakespeare's properties David Armitage; 2. The active and contemplative lives in Shakespeare's plays Cathy Curtis; 3. Shakespeare and the ethics of authority Stephen Greenblatt; 4. Shakespeare and the politics of superstition Susan James; Part II. The Court: 5. Counsel, succession and the politics of Shakespeare's Sonnets Cathy Shrank; 6. Educating Hamlet and Prince Hal Aysha Pollnitz; 7. The corruption of Hamlet Andrew Fitzmaurice; 8. Unfolding 'the properties of government': the case of Measure for Measure and the history of political thought Conal Condren; 9. Shakespeare and the politics of co-authorship: Henry VIII Jennifer Richards; Part III. The Commonwealth: 10. Putting the city into Shakespeare's city comedy Phil Withington; 11. Talking to the animals: persuasion, counsel and their discontents in Julius Caesar David Colclough; 12. Political rhetoric and citizenship in Coriolanus Markku Peltonen; 13. Shakespeare and the best state of a commonwealth Eric Nelson; Afterword: Shakespeare and humanist culture Quentin Skinner.

Prize Winner

Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2009 - Winner


Review of the hardback: '… one of the most important new studies of Shakespeare to have appeared this century. It takes the discussion of Shakespeare and early modern political thought to a hitherto unseen level of sophistication. For the first time, we are offered a serious and sustained reading of Shakespeare in the light of the 'Cambridge school' of work on the language of political theory … contributors come from diverse perspectives … and yet they create a strikingly unified image of a Shakespeare who is at once a deep political thinker, a consummate master of rhetoric and a wily refusenik when it comes to orthodox positions … deserves a prominent place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Shakespeare - more than that, of anyone interested in the interplay between literature and the history of political thought.' Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick

Review of the hardback: '… [this] book represents a new synthesis of method and approach, and the definitive starting point for any future exploration of the 'political' Shakespeare.' Ian Donaldson, University of Melbourne


David Armitage, Conal Condren, Andrew Fitzmaurice, Cathy Curtis, Stephen Greenblatt, Susan James, Cathy Shrank, Aysha Pollnitz, Jennifer Richards, Phil Withington, David Colclough, Markku Peltonen, Eric Nelson, Quentin Skinner

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis