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Shakespeare and Literary Theory
     

Shakespeare and Literary Theory

by Jonathan Gil Harris
 

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ISBN-10: 0199573387

ISBN-13: 9780199573387

Pub. Date: 10/10/2010

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

How is it that the British literary critic Terry Eagleton can say that 'it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein and Derrida', or that the Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Zizek can observe that 'Shakespeare without doubt had read Lacan'?

Overview

How is it that the British literary critic Terry Eagleton can say that 'it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein and Derrida', or that the Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Zizek can observe that 'Shakespeare without doubt had read Lacan'? Shakespeare and Literary Theory argues that literary theory is less an external set of ideas anachronistically imposed on Shakespeare's texts than a mode - or several modes - of critical reflection inspired by, and emerging from, his writing. These modes together constitute what we might call 'Shakespearian theory': theory that is not just about Shakespeare but also derives its energy from Shakespeare. To name just a few examples: Karl Marx was an avid reader of Shakespeare and used Timon of Athens to illustrate aspects of his economic theory; psychoanalytic theorists from Sigmund Freud to Jacques Lacan have explained some of their most axiomatic positions with reference to Hamlet; Michel Foucault's early theoretical writing on dreams and madness returns repeatedly to Macbeth; Jacques Derrida's deconstructive philosophy is articulated in dialogue with Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet; French feminism's best-known essay is Helene Cixous's meditation on Antony and Cleopatra; certain strands of queer theory derive their impetus from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's reading of the Sonnets; Gilles Deleuze alights on Richard III as an exemplary instance of his theory of the war machine; and postcolonial theory owes a large debt to Aime Cesaire's revision of The Tempest. By reading what theoretical movements from formalism and structuralism to cultural materialism and actor-network theory have had to say about and in concert with Shakespeare, we can begin to get a sense of how much the DNA of contemporary literary theory contains a startling abundance of chromosomes - concepts, preoccupations, ways of using language - that are of Shakespearian provenance.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199573387
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/10/2010
Series:
Oxford Shakespeare Topics Series
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction: Shakespeare and Theory
I. Language and Structure
1. Formalism: William Empson, Cleanth Brooks, Mikhail Bakhtin
2. Structuralism: Roland Barthes, Roman Jakobson, Rene Girard
3. Deconstruction:J. Hillis Miller, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida
4. 4. Rhizome and Actor Network Theory: Gilles Deleuze, Michel Serres, Bruno Latour
II. Desire and Identity
5. Freudian Psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones, Melanie Klein
6. Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Slavoj Zizek
7. Feminism: Virginia Woolf, Helene Cixous, Elaine Showalter
8. Queer Theory: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jonathan Dollimore, Lee Edelman
III. Culture and Society
9. Marxism: Karl Marx, Georg Lukacs, Bertolt Brecht
10. Poststructuralist Marxisms: Terry Eagleton, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson
11. New Historicism and Cultural Materialism: Michel Foucault, Stephen Greenblatt, Alan Sinfield
12. Postcolonial Theory: Wole Soyinka, Edward Said, Sara Ahmed
Further Reading
Works Cited

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