1st Edition

Rethinking Shakespeare Source Study
Audiences, Authors, and Digital Technologies

ISBN 9781138123076
Published April 6, 2018 by Routledge
350 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book asks new questions about how and why Shakespeare engages with source material, and about what should be counted as sources in Shakespeare studies. The essays demonstrate that source study remains an indispensable mode of inquiry for understanding Shakespeare, his authorship and audiences, and early modern gender, racial, and class relations, as well as for considering how new technologies have and will continue to redefine our understanding of the materials Shakespeare used to compose his plays. Although source study has been used in the past to construct a conservative view of Shakespeare and his genius, the volume argues that a rethought Shakespearean source study provides opportunities to examine models and practices of cultural exchange and memory, and to value specific cultures and difference. Informed by contemporary approaches to literature and culture, the essays revise conceptions of sources and intertextuality to include terms like "haunting," "sustainability," "microscopic sources," "contamination," "fragmentary circulation" and "cultural conservation." They maintain an awareness of the heterogeneity of cultures along lines of class, religious affiliation, and race, seeking to enhance the opportunity to register diverse ideas and frameworks imported from foreign material and distant sources. The volume not only examines print culture, but also material culture, theatrical paradigms, generic assumptions, and oral narratives. It considers how digital technologies alter how we find sources and see connections among texts. This book asserts that how critics assess and acknowledge Shakespeare’s sources remains interpretively and politically significant; source study and its legacy continues to shape the image of Shakespeare and his authorship. The collection will be valuable to those interested in the relationships between Shakespeare’s work and other texts, those seeking to understand how the legacy of source study has shaped Shakespeare as a cultural phenomenon, and those studying source study, early modern authorship, implications of digital tools in early modern studies, and early modern literary culture.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Dennis Austin Britton and Melissa Walter


Part One: Source Study, Sustainability, and Cultural Diversity

Toward a Sustainable Source Study

Lori Humphrey Newcomb

Contaminatio, Race, and Pity in Othello

Dennis Austin Britton

Translating Plautus to Bohemia: Ruzante, Ludovico, and The Winter’s Tale

Jane Tylus

Veiled Revenants and the Risks of Hospitality: Euripides’ Alcestis, the

Renaissance Novella, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing

Susanne L. Wofford


Part Two: Sources and Audiences

Traces of Knowledge: Microsource Study in Cymbeline and Lear

Meredith Beales

Reconstructing Holinshed: History and Romance in Henry VIII

Dimitry Senyshyn

Shakespeare’s Transformative Art: Theatrical Paradigms as Sources

in All’s Well that Ends Well and Macbeth

David Kay


Part Three: Authorship and Transmission

Diachronic and Synchronic: Two Problems of Textual Relations

in The Comedy of Errors

Kent Cartwright

Greek Sacrifice in Shakespeare’s Rome: Titus Andronicus and Iphigenia

in Aulis

Penelope Meyers Usher

Multiple Materials and Motives in Two Gentlemen of Verona

Meredith Skura

The Curious Case of Mr. William Shakespeare and the Red Herring:

Twelfth Night and its Sources

Mark Houlahan


Part Four: Source Study in the Digital Age

Shakespeare Source Study in the Age of Google: Revisiting

Greenblatt’s Elephant’s and Horatio’s Ground

Brett D. Hirsch and Laurie Johnson

"Tangled in a net": Shakespeare the Adaptor/Shakespeare the Source

Janelle Jenstad

Lost Plays and Source Study

David McInnis


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Dennis Austin Britton is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of New Hampshire, USA.

Melissa Walter is Associate Professor in the Department of English at University of the Fraser Valley, Canada.