Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds: National and Transnational Identities in the Elizabethan Age

Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds: National and Transnational Identities in the Elizabethan Age

by Carole Levin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds, Carole Levin and John Watkins focus on the relationship between the London-based professional theater preeminently associated with William Shakespeare and an unprecedented European experience of geographic, social, and intellectual mobility. Shakespeare's plays bear the marks of exile and exploration, rural depopulation,

Overview

In Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds, Carole Levin and John Watkins focus on the relationship between the London-based professional theater preeminently associated with William Shakespeare and an unprecedented European experience of geographic, social, and intellectual mobility. Shakespeare's plays bear the marks of exile and exploration, rural depopulation, urban expansion, and shifting mercantile and diplomatic configurations. He fills his plays with characters testing the limits of personal identity: foreigners, usurpers, outcasts, outlaws, scolds, shrews, witches, mercenaries, and cross-dressers.

Through parallel discussions of Henry VI, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice, Levin and Watkins argue that Shakespeare's centrality to English national consciousness is inseparable from his creation of the foreign as a category asserting dangerous affinities between England's internal minorities and its competitors within an increasingly fraught European mercantile system.

As a women's historian, Levin is particularly interested in Shakespeare's responses to marginalized sectors of English society. As a scholar of English, Italian Studies, and Medieval Studies, Watkins situates Shakespeare in the context of broadly European historical movements. Together Levin and Watkins narrate the emergence of the foreign as portable category that might be applied both to "strangers" from other countries and to native-born English men and women, such as religious dissidents, who resisted conformity to an increasingly narrow sense of English identity. Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds will appeal to historians, literary scholars, theater specialists, and anyone interested in Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The sense of discovery and surprise, alive in Levin and Watkins's presentation, gives the reader the old-fashioned pleasure of a detective story and, more important, makes tangible the historical specificities and stakes involved in the social constructions of gender and race that haunt immigration policies and globalization strategies in the EU and the US. In doing so, Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds powerfully de-essentializes those constructions. . . . This book stands at the beginning of a sea change in the enactment of interdisciplinarity."—Marguerite Waller, Modern Language Quarterly, March 2011

"This interdisciplinary book, which comprises pairs of essays on 1 Henry VI, The Merchant of Venice, and The Taming of the Shrew, exemplifies new historicism at its best. . . . The essays are beautifully written, cogently argued, and meticulously researched. Recommended."—Choice, September 2009

"In Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds, Carole Levin and John Watkins move beyond current debates about the status of early modern studies vis-à-vis historicism to offer an original and much-needed book that truly brings together the fields of literature and history. Most notably, the authors significantly expand the discussion of early modern nationalism and, in doing so, offer thoughtful, incisive, and self-aware criticism of a set of Shakespearean texts."—Rebecca Lemon, University of Southern California, author of Treason by Words: Literature, Law, and Rebellion in Shakespeare's England

"The blurring of the boundaries between literary and historical studies is the most widespread trend in current Renaissance scholarship. In Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds, Carole Levin and John Watkins draw upon both disciplines to illuminate nation-building, the cultural and economic impact of foreign worlds, and the roles of foreign characters in Elizabethan drama."—Phyllis Rackin, University of Pennsylvania

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801477980
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
11/27/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Carole Levin is Willa Cather Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. She is the author of several books, including Dreaming the English Renaissance: Politics and Desire in Court and Culture.

John Watkins is Professor of English, Italian Studies, and Medieval Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author most recently of Representing Elizabeth in Stuart England: Literature, History, Sovereignty.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >