Beginning Shakespeare

By Lisa Hopkins

Beginning Shakespeare

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6423-4
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £10.99
  • Published Date: March 2005
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature: history & criticism, Literary studies: general, Ireland, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800, Literature
  • Series: Beginnings


'Beginning Shakespeare' introduces students to the study of Shakespeare, and grounds their understanding of his work in theoretical discourses. After an introductory survey of the dominant approaches of the past, seven chapters examine the major current critical approaches to Shakespeare; psychoanalysis, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, gender studies, queer theory, postcolonial criticism and performance criticism. A further chapter looks at the growing roles of biography, attribution studies and textual studies.

Each chapter analyses the strengths and weaknesses of a particular perspective, allowing students to gain a clear critical purchase on the respective approaches, and to make informed choices between them. Each chapter ends with a list of suggested further reading and interactive exercises based on the key issues raised.

An invaluable introduction, essential for anyone studying Shakespeare, 'Beginning Shakespeare' offers students a map of the current critical practices, and a sense of the possibilities for developing their own approaches.


1. Critical Histories
I. 1598-1741: A bumpy ride
ii. 1741-1904: Enter Shakespear
iii. Enshrinement
iv. A.C.Bradley and character study
v. The Thirties: images and patterns
vi. Tillyard and the 'Elizabethan world picture'
vii. Jan Kott: Shakespeare our contemporary
2. Psychoanalysis
I. Freud and his early followers
ii. C.G. Jung and the theory of 'types and archetypes'
iii. Jacques Lacan and the theory of the subject
iv. Post-Lacanian psychoanalytical approaches
3. New Historicism
I. Stephen Greenblatt: 'invisible bullets'
ii. Louis Montrose: New Historicism meets psychoanalysis
iii. Leonard Tennenhouse and the interests of power
iv. Later developments: New Historicism meets gender
4. Cultural Materialism
I. Political Shakespeare: a landmark text
ii. Dollimore and Sinfield: literature and power
iii. Terence Hawkes and the politics of meaning
5. New factualisms
I. The 'new biography'
ii. Attribution studies
iii. Editing
6. Gender studies and queer theory
I. Boy actors
ii. Political feminisms
iii. Queer theory
7. Postcolonial criticism
I. 'The Tempest'
ii. Postcolonial 'Tempests'
iii. 'Othello'
8. Shakespeare in performance
I. 'Henry V' in performance
ii. The Olivier version
iii. Stratford-upon-Avon
iv. Political performance criticism?


Lisa Hopkins is Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University

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