Shakespeare and the Body Politic

Overview

Metaphors animate Shakespeare’s corpus, and one of the most prominent is the image of the body. Sketched out in the eternal lines of his plays and poetry, and often drawn in exquisite detail, variations on the body metaphor abound in the works of Shakespeare. Attention to the political dimensions of this metaphor in Shakespeare and the Body Politic permits readers to examine the sentiments of romantic love and family life, the enjoyment of peace, prosperity and justice, and the spirited pursuit of honor and glory...

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Shakespeare and the Body Politic

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Overview

Metaphors animate Shakespeare’s corpus, and one of the most prominent is the image of the body. Sketched out in the eternal lines of his plays and poetry, and often drawn in exquisite detail, variations on the body metaphor abound in the works of Shakespeare. Attention to the political dimensions of this metaphor in Shakespeare and the Body Politic permits readers to examine the sentiments of romantic love and family life, the enjoyment of peace, prosperity and justice, and the spirited pursuit of honor and glory as they inevitably emerge within the social, moral, and religious limits of particular political communities. The lessons to be learned from such an examination are both timely and timeless. For the tensions between the desires and pursuits of individuals and the health of the community forge the sinews of every body politic, regardless of the form it may take or even where and when one might encounter it. In his plays and poetry Shakespeare illuminates these tensions within the body politic, which itself constitutes the framework for a flourishing community of human beings and citizens—from the ancient city-states of Greece and Rome to the Christian cities and kingdoms of early modern Europe. The contributors to this volume attend to the political context and role of political actors within the diverse works of Shakespeare that they explore. Their arguments thus exhibit together Shakespeare’s political thought. By examining his plays and poetry with the seriousness they deserve, Shakespeare’s audiences and readers not only discover an education in human and political virtue, but also find themselves written into his lines. Shakespeare’s body of work is indeed politic, and the whole that it forms incorporates us all.

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Editorial Reviews

John Alvis
"The abundance of fresh insights in this collection owes to the contributors' uncommon familiarity with issues that distinguish early modern from classical political thought."
David Bevington
“This lively collection of essays, assembled by Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin Gish, organizes its contents under three rubrics: the heart, the limbs, and the head. The book is an insightful exploration of one of Shakespeare's most enduring metaphors: that of the political state as a sentient body whose parts, in Menenius's memorable fable in Coriolanus, correspond to the human frame, with the belly as the senators of Rome, sending nourishment through the "rivers" of the blood to all "the cranks and offices of man" only to meet with the insolent defiance of the "mutinous members," the populace, the outward limbs. This concept, explored with fresh analysis and fruitful observations in this collection, gives us much to think about in Shakespeare's world where princes, statesmen, nobles, clergymen, and commoners are all political actors. The body politic, in the words of this volume's editors, is ‘perhaps the most vivid and enduring image in speech describing political community ever proposed.’”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739170953
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 1,428,721
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard J. Dobski is Associate Professor of Political Science at Assumption College, where he teaches courses in international relations, American politics and political philosophy, including a course on Shakespeare’s politics. He received his BA from Boston College and his MA and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He is the contributing co-editor of Souls With Longing: Representations of Honor and Love in Shakespeare (Lexington Books, 2011) and of “The Political Thought of William Shakespeare” (special issue of Perspectives on Political Science, 2012). He has published book chapters, articles, reviews and review essays on Thucydides, Xenophon, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, American foreign policy and just war theory in POLIS: The Journal For Ancient Greek Political Thought, Perspectives on Political Science, The Review of Politics, Interpretation, Society and The Review of Metaphysics.

Dustin Gish has published articles, book chapters, review essays, and reviews on a wide range of topics in the history of political philosophy, including the political thought of Homer, Xenophon, Plato, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Jefferson. He is the contributing co-editor of Souls With Longing: Representations of Honor and Love in Shakespeare and of The Political Thought of Xenophon; his work has appeared in The Journal of Politics, History of Political Thought, Perspectives on Political Science, Polis, The Review of Politics, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review. He currently teaches ancient and early modern constitutionalism as Lecturer in the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage at the University of Oklahoma.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface

Chapter 1: Shakespeare and the Body Politic
Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin Gish

Part One: The Heart

Chapter 2: “The Very Heart of Loss”: Love and Politics in Antony and Cleopatra
Joseph Alulis

Chapter 3: Julius Caesar: The Problem of Classical Republicanism
Timothy Burns

Chapter 4: Who is Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar?
Nasser Behnegar

Chapter 5: Love, Honor,and Community in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
Pamela Jensen

Part Two: The Limbs

Chapter 6: At War ‘Twixt Will and Will Not: Government, Marriage, and Grace in Measure for Measure
Peter Meilaender

Chapter 7: Trojan Horse or Troilus’ Whore? Pandering Statecraft and Political Stagecraft in Troilus and Cressida
Nalin Ranasinghe

Chapter 8: Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece: Honor and Republicanism
Robert Schaefer

Chapter 9: Hotspur and Falstaff vs. The Politicians: Shakespeare’s View of Honor
Timothy Spiekerman

Part Three: The Head

Chapter 10: Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, and Philosophy: A Preliminary Inquiry
George Anastaplo

Chapter 11: Taming the Shrew: Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and Political Philosophy
Dustin Gish

Chapter 12: The Education of Edgar in Shakespeare’s King Lear
Laurence D. Nee

Chapter 13: Shakespeare and the Comedy and Tragedy of Liberalism
David K. Nichols

List of Contributors
Index

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