In fiction as in biography, Shakespeare's life is often politicised. Originally, the story of young Shakespeare caught poaching deer and forced to flee Stratford served to illustrate the role of fate in the creation of genius, while his irresponsible behaviour was downplayed. Later, the poaching was represented as rebellion against aristocratic privileges, and even as a deliberate political protest against enclosures of arable land. In more recent fiction, Shakespeare needs to be forced into a social awareness by the deer stealing episode, or even becomes a heartless landlord himself. Thus, Shakespeare's fictional lives reflect political developments in society, from class conflict to cultural levelling.
Fictions of Shakespeare the Deer Stealer
The Complex Legacy of Political Shakespeare
This article was delivered in the plenary session of the Shakespeare Association of America's annual meeting in St Louis, April 2014, alongside papers from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Dollimore, also for the first time published in this volume. The purpose of the panel was to commemorate and celebrate two important critical texts whose anniversaries fell at that time: Jonathan Dollimore's Radical Tragedy, published in 1984, and Political Shakespeare (1985), edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, which went into its second edition in 1994. This article discusses the impact and influence of Political Shakespeare, to which I was a contributor.
This article offers a reflection on the importance and impact of Jonathan Dollimore's book Radical Tragedy, situating it in the context of the critical and political climate of the 1980s and the author's own engagement with both early modern studies and postcolonial studies. It suggests that the book's engagement with both philosophy and history remains important to both fields today.
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla (New York: Random House, 2009).
Laurie Johnson, John Sutton, and Evelyn Tribble, eds, Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre (London: Routledge, 2014).
Jacques Ranciere, trans. Gabriel Rockhill, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Bloomsbury, 2004).
David Hillman, Shakespeare’s Entrails: Belief, Scepticism and the Interior of the Body (London: Palgrave, 2007).
The homology between the fragmented body politic and its suffering physical bodies in Titus Andronicus seems to suggest that Shakespeare represents physical disability negatively: as corruption, disorder, incapacity. By relying upon a corporeal metaphor of fragmentation to characterise the political state of Rome, Shakespeare makes the traumatised or dismembered body bear a negative ideological burden; political inefficacy seems to be equated with the violated body. Inversely, and to the same effect, Titus and Lavinia's violated bodies seem to render their access to political and social agency difficult, if not impossible. However, at both the metaphorical and material level, Shakespeare endows the dis-abled body with the capacity to heal or adapt itself under the most extenuating circumstances. Overcoming physical barriers to communication and action, Titus and Lavinia enable themselves to enact revenge. This essay argues that the adaptability of the political and physical body in Titus suggests a potentially affirmative way of reconceptualising the physically incomplete body - not as a disabled entity but as a body that can suffer partial losses and still survive, succeed even, if its constituent parts form their own internally coherent body.
Strangers, Intimates and Destabilized Identities in Synge's When the Moon Has Set and Marina Carr's The Bog of Cats . . .
‘Thinking about how we might work with, and speak to, others, or how we may inhabit the world with others, involves imagining a different form of political community, one that moves beyond the opposition between friends and strangers, or between sameness and difference’.
Few aspects of Northern Irish political culture are as denuded as those that attempt to locate and understand the terrorist act. From the exasperation of Margaret Thatcher’s outburst at the time of the Hunger Strikes that ‘it is not political, it is a crime’, to the exhausted freedom fighter/terrorist binary opposition recently pressed back into service by Peter Mandelson, terrorism has consistently been perceived as an act that defies the realm of civic discourse. Indeed, it has been the traditional role of language in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist atrocity to present itself as unable to capture the overwhelming materiality of the event itself. What, so the argument runs, can words offer in the face of such violence? Understood as such, every terrorist outrage becomes unspeakable.
The present essay attempts to shed light on the gender politics of Tobias Smollett's novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker in relation to its spatial politics, and argues that geographic space functions as a framework within which gender contextualises both urban and rural culture. Drawing primarily on Henri Lefebvre's seminal post-modernist study of space, the paper argues that space is a social production that gives rise to representational effects. Chief among them is gender, and the essay analyses the way Smollett invokes and then subverts the traditional literary and cultural binary between country/femininity and city/masculinity. It thus advances a deconstruction of a familiar binary opposition between geographic and sexual stereotypes. Thus, the ultimate 'traveller' of Smollett's picaresque novel is none other than the reader who is invited to explore his/her identity by analysing Smollett's presentation of the formation of subjectivity through the intersections of space and gender as well as his ambiguous stance towards his contemporary status quo.
The Other Paul Muldoon
In this paper I argue that Muldoon’s recent Horse Latitudes (2006) rereads, in a way that corrects our misreadings, images of horses and horse-related images in his work, and that from this self-reading another Paul Muldoon emerges: the postmodern ironist we think we know will here give way to a poet of abjection and of ‘abject’ political sympathies, a figure it turns out was there all along.
Anne Kelley and Carol Banks
Drama and Politics in the English Civil War Susan Wiseman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), ISBN 0-521-47221-0 hardback £40.00
The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents Edited by Kate Aughterson (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) ISBN 0-415-18554-8 hardback £90.00
Coming of Age in Shakespeare Margorie Garber (New York & London: Routledge, 1997) ISBN 0-415-91908-8 paperback £10.99