Introduction

Article excerpt

This issue of Intertexts commemorates "Shakespeare 2001: New Readings of the Page, New Meanings for the Stage," the 34th Annual International Comparative Literature Symposium held at Texas Tech University in January of that year, a conference which I was privileged to chair. Sixty scholars, professors and students alike, gathered on the Texas Tech campus to hear a remarkably diverse program which included papers on William Shakespeare and his contemporaries and dealt with the performance of dramatic texts as well as their interpretation. Selecting materials from the conference for inclusion in this publication was a difficult task in light of the general excellence of the presentations and the eagerness of most of the participants to have their work published in Intertexts. In making my final selection, I attempted to incorporate a wide variety of critical approaches and to use material by younger scholars as well as by the established literary critics who participated in the conference. Additionally I sought papers that treated different plays or groups of plays so as to give this volume interest to a wide range of readers.

Because the conference was the first devoted to Shakespeare in the new century and in the new millennium, I sought to incorporate materials that reflected both the well-established methods of twentieth-century scholarship and the methodologies which promise to continue into the new century. Here, there is a curious circularity of interest, for at the beginning of the last century scholarship largely focused on questions of history and biography. Thus it seems of particular interest that, at a time when Shakespeare's plays are once more being assigned to the Earl of Oxford and his sonnets attributed to Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, one of the deans of modern Shakespearean criticism, David Bevington, turns his attention to biography and the possible biographical determinants that leant shape to the author's later tragedies and romances as he contemplated retirement to Stratford on Avon. Ruminating perhaps on the death of his son in the late 1590s and his relationship with his own daughters, Shakespeare wrote a series of plays extending from King Lear to The Tempest in which father daughter relationships are crucial.

Other papers employ theoretical approaches to the plays which reflect contemporary cultural studies. Joseph Pequigney, whose Such Is My Love was a pioneering exploration of the homoerotic themes in Shakespeare's sonnets, examines recent readings of Coriolanus and Romeo and Juliet proposed by queer theorists and argues for a moderate assessment of the homoerotic element in the plays that examines Shakespeare's language in the context of the Renaissance rather than that of the twentieth century. …