An introductory critical study for first year undergraduates which bridges the gap between A Level and university study. The book offers an accessible overview of key critical perspectives, early modern contexts, and methods of close reading, as well as screen and stage performances spanning several decades. Organised around the discussion of fourteen major plays, it introduces readers to the diverse theoretical approaches typical of today's English studies. This is a go-to resource that can be consulted thematically or by individual play or genre.
Critical approaches can overwhelm students who are daunted by the quantity and complexity of current scholarship; Bickley and Stevens are experienced teachers at both A and university level and are thus uniquely qualified to show how a mix of critical ideas can be used to inform ways of thinking about a play.
Pamela Bickley and Jenny Stevens have taught Shakespeare at pre-university and degree level for many years. They lead the English Association's ongoing involvement with transition issues and lecture and publish on a range of literary topics.
How To Use This Book / Introduction / 1. A Midsummer Night's Dream: transformations, illusions, festivity / 2. Much Ado About Nothing: exploring language and gender / 3. Twelfth Night: disguises and desires / 4. Measure for Measure (and its problems...) / 5. Hamlet: a play of 'perpetual modernity' / 6. Othello: sex, race and suggestibility / 7. King Lear: 'That things might change, or cease' / 8. Macbeth: kingship and witchcraft / 9. Antony and Cleopatra: the legendary on stage / 10. King Richard II: the performance of majesty / 11. Richard III: history's monster or charismatic villain? / 12. Cymbeline: 'an experimental romance'? / 13. The Winter's Tale: tyranny, trials, Time / 14. The Tempest: where 'Thought is free' / Glossary / References / Index.