Shakespeare's Hand

Shakespeare's Hand

Shakespeare's Hand

Shakespeare's Hand


Over the past fifteen years, Jonathan Goldberg's wide-ranging essays have been among the most sophisticated, influential, and controversial writing about Shakespeare. He challenges the critical orthodoxy, provoking scholars to reassess both their own assumptions and those underpinning the field of Shakespeare studies. Collected in one volume for the first time, these essays offer a sustained, energetic, and rigorous examination of issues of gender and sexuality that pervade Shakespeare's plays, as well as a road map of the shifts during the past two decades in our understanding of English literature's most canonical figure.

Central to these essays are concerns about textuality as considered from a number of vantage points, including deconstructionist, psychoanalytic, and historicist. Goldberg studies most of Shakespeare's plays, giving particular emphasis to Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and to Romeo and Juliet; he focuses throughout on the relationship between the text as material object and the reality created or reflected by that text. Among the issues he considers are the textual instability of Shakespeare's plays and the historical instabilities of gender and sexuality depicted in those plays, the construction of gender and the dehumanization implicit in treating characters as a textual production, the function of letters and other documents within the Shakespearean texts, and the correlation of sexual politics and textual desire.

Tracing a path from characters in the scriptive sense to their embodiment in characters marked by gender and sexuality, Shakespeare's Hand provides a brilliant set of inquiries into the production, critical reception, and conditions of Shakespearean texts.


Shakespeare’s Hand gathers work I have written and published, for the most part in journals and collections, since the mid-1980s. While I never intended to write a book on Shakespeare (the closest I ever came to that was in initial plans for Writing Matter: From the Hands of the English Re naissance), these essays have a coherence that brings them together in this book. Certainly, the shape of this book does not correspond to any original intention or design. Whatever coherence it has is perhaps fortuitous, perhaps a testimony to concerns that have remained central to my work, although a reader may be more interested in charting changes and shifts that have occurred over the years (and may wish to treat the book as an interesting case study or as more generally symptomatic). Many of these pieces were, in origin, occasional, responses to invitations to contribute to anthologies or special issues of journals or to appear on panels at meetings of professional organizations. in many cases, these occasions were designed to unsettle prevailing orthodoxies; my usual response, in such instances, has involved a desire not only to further such impulses but also to shake up the counterdiscourses as well.

Central to these essays are concerns about textuality that are played . . .

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