Shakespeare's history plays, with their insistent depictions of leadership and its discontents, have prompted very different critical views over the last four centuries. This book introduces students to the key critical debates under five headings: genre, history and politics, gender and sexuality, language, and performance. The Guide serves both to enhance students' enjoyment of the history plays and to broaden their critical repertoire. By presenting ten recent critical interventions in the field, it provides a compendium of current scholarship. These articles are contextualised with brief critical overviews and annotated suggestions for further reading. An additional chapter on pre-twentieth-century criticism is mainly in narrative form but excerpts significant early views by Johnson, Hazlitt and Coleridge.
Emma Smith is Fellow of Hertford College and Lecturer in English at Oxford University. Her publications include Thomas Kyd: The Spanish Tragedie (ed. 1998) and Shakespeare in Production: Henry V (2000).
Preface Acknowledgements1. The Development of Criticism of Shakespeare's Histories:2. Genre:OverviewMarjorie Garber, 'Descanting on Deformity: Richard III and the Shape of History'Paola Pugliatti, 'Time, Space and the Instability of History in the Henry IV sequence'3. Language: OverviewHarry Berger, 'Psychoanalysing the Shakespeare text: The first three scenes of the Henriad'Sandra Fischer, 'He Means to Pay': Value and Metaphor in the Lancastrian Tetralogy4. Gender and Sexuality:OverviewLeah Marcus, 'Elizabeth'Jean Howard and Phyllis Rackin, 'King John'5. History and Politics:OverviewAndrew Murphy, 'Shakespeare's Irish History'Graham Holderness, 'What Ish My Nation?' Shakespeare and National Identities6. Performance:OverviewMargaret Shewring, 'In the Context of English History'Alan Dessen, 'Stagecraft and Imagery in Shakespeare's Henry VI'Index