Boldly moves criticism of Shakespeare's history plays beyond anti-humanist theoretical approaches This important intervention in the critical and theoretical discourse of Shakespeare studies summarises, evaluates and ultimately calls time on the mode of criticism that has prevailed in Shakespeare studies over the past thirty years. It heralds a new, more dynamic way of reading Shakespeare as a supremely intelligent and creative political thinker, whose history plays address and illuminate the very questions with which cultural historicists have been so preoccupied since the 1980s. In providing bold and original readings of the first and second tetralogies ( Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II and Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2), the book reignites old debates and re-energises recent bids to humanise Shakespeare and to restore agency to the individual in the critical readings of his plays.
Key Features * Re-evaluates the legacy of new historicism and cultural materialism and intervenes in vital theoretical debates about human nature, the relationship between the individual and society, and the scope for individual political agency * Questions the anti-essentialist, anti-humanist theoretical framework that has held sway in Shakespeare studies since the 1980s and develops a critical practice which appreciates Shakespeare's startling insights into personal agency in history and ideology * Provides original new readings of the first and second tetralogies that demonstrate Shakespeare's unique and radical take on the workings of power, history, and individual agency Keywords Shakespeare, History Plays, Anti-humanism, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, Critical Theory
Dr. Neema Parvini graduated with a First in English from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2004. He was awarded the Edmee Manning Prize, a McDonalds Scholarship, the Gertrude Schryver Prize and the Margaret Bretherton Memorial Prize for his outstanding performance as an undergraduate. He was awarded his MPhil in twentieth-century literature with Distinction from the University of Oxford in 2005. He returned to Royal Holloway in 2006, where he was awarded a Thomas Holloway Scholarship to read for his doctoral thesis on Shakespeare and historicism, and was awarded his PhD in 2010. He is Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Richmond University, UK.
Contents; Acknowledgements; A Note on Texts; 1. Introduction; 2. New Historicism; James I and the Politics of Literature; 'Martial Law in the Land of Cockaigne'; 3. Cultural Materialism; 'History and Ideology, Masculinity and Miscegenation: The Instance of Henry V'; Marginal Politics?; 4. An Argument Against Anti-Humanism; Nature and Nurture; Three Types of Determinism; Freedom versus Determinism and Human Agency; 5. Solutions; 6. Shakespeare's Historical and Political Thought in Context; Sixteenth-century Historiography; Three Strains of Historiography; Shakespeare's Humanist Historiography; 7. Personal Action and Agency in Henry VI; Personal Politics: 2 Henry VI; Class Politics: Cade's Rebellion; Power Politics: 3 Henry VI; 8 Ideology in Richard II and Henry IV; Cultural Historicism and the Second Tetralogy; Richard II: 'Such is the breath of kings' (1.3.208); Henry IV: 'God save the King! Will no man say "Amen"?'; Falstaff; 9. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.