Shakespeare and European Politics

Shakespeare and European Politics

Shakespeare and European Politics

Shakespeare and European Politics

Synopsis

A collection of papers presented at a conference held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It reflects a different trend in Shakespeare studies: a tendency to study Shakespeare not just in his own historical or national contexts, but also as a cultural phenomenon with an international afterlife, transmitted in various languages, first of all in Europe.

Excerpt

Over the past decade and a half, a growing contingent of scholars has come to focus on “European Shakespeare,” studying the formative role of the playwright and his work in the constitution of the Continent’s sense of identity. These scholars have studied Shakespeare’s own work, but also the countless European cultures that went into the shaping of it, as well as the afterlives that the plays, the poems, and the life of their author subsequently inspired in Britain and across the Continent. These scholars’ devotion has yielded a range of fine articles, books, conferences, and essay collections, addressing these themes from a variety of angles.

The distinctive feature of this new collection of essays—carefully designed and edited by Dirk Delabastita, Jozef De Vos, and Paul Franssen—is that it approaches Shakespearean culture across Europe from a specifically political angle. It looks at the ways in which events like the Reformation and its political consequences may help us reinterpret the man and his plays, but it also addresses the ways in which altogether less conspicuous ideologies permeate all appropriations of Shakespeare and his work to the present day, in stage or screen adaptations of the plays and the poems, in the many translations produced on the multilingual European continent since time immemorial, in appropriations of the Shakespearean heritage by popular culture, and in scholarly readings of Shakespeare and theoretical reflections on such academic practice.

Shakespeare and European Politics creates an awareness of the complexity of the subject matter as it ventures into largely unexplored terrain in an attempt to enhance our appreciation of the isolated events and political tendencies that had a bearing on what Shakespeare meant by Europe and, in addition, to reveal how Europe has meant and continues to mean by Shakespeare. With their primary focus on the intercultural dynamics of Shakespeare, the researchers presented here position Shakespeare at a vital point on the sliding scale from local, regional, and national to universal, world, and global manifestations of the Bard.

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