The Oxford Handbook of the Age of Shakespeare presents a broad sampling of current historical scholarship on the period of Shakespeare's career that will assist and stimulate scholars of his poems and plays. Rather than merely attempting to summarize the historical 'background' to Shakespeare, individual chapters seek to exemplify a wide variety of perspectives and methodologies currently used in historical research on the early modern period that can inform
close analysis of literature. Different sections examine political history at both the national and local levels; relationships between intellectual culture and the early modern political imagination; relevant aspects of religious and social history; and facets of the histories of architecture, the visual
arts, and music. Topics treated include the emergence of an early modern 'public sphere' and its relationship to drama during Shakespeare's lifetime; the role of historical narratives in shaping the period's views on the workings of politics; attitudes about the role of emotion in social life; cultures of honour and shame and the rituals and literary forms through which they found expression; crime and murder; and visual expressions of ideas of moral disorder and natural monstrosity, in printed
images as well as garden architecture.
R. Malcolm Smuts, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston, has had a lifelong interest in interdisciplinary scholarship on early modern Britain and Europe. His publications include Court Culture and the Origins of a Royalist Tradition in England (1987); Culture and Power in England 1585-1685 (1998) and several edited collections and articles on aspects of political and cultural history.