1st Edition

Shakespeare and Civil Unrest in Britain and the United States

Edited By Mark Bayer, Joseph Navitsky Copyright 2021
    208 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    208 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Shakespeare and Civil Unrest in Britain and the United States extends the growing body of scholarship on Shakespeare’s appropriation by examining how the plays have been invoked during periods of extreme social, political, and racial turmoil. How do the ways that Shakespeare is adapted, studied, and discussed during periods of civil conflict differ from wars between nations? And how have these conflicts, in turn, affected how Shakespeare has been understood in these two countries that, more than any others, continue to be deeply shaped by Shakespeare’s complex, enduring, and multivalent legacy? The essays in this volume collectively disclose a fascinating genealogy of how Shakespeare became a dynamic presence in factional discourse and explore the "war of words" that has accompanied civil wars and other instances of domestic disturbance. Whether as part of violent confrontations, mutinies, rebellions, or within the universal struggle for civil rights, Shakespeare’s repeated appearance during such turbulent moments is more than mere historical coincidence. Rather, its inflections on the contested meanings of citizenship, community, and political legitimacy demonstrate the generative influence of the plays on our understanding of internecine strife in both countries.



    Shakespeare, Civil Unrest, and the Negotiation of Cultural Value (Mark Bayer and Joseph Navitsky)


    Chapter 1 – Celebrity Skulls (Heidi Craig)

    Chapter 2 – "I thought my blood derived a Crown to us, / But now I find it derives only Treason": Remembering and Forgetting the civil war  (Rachel Willie)

    Chapter 3 – Richard Grant White, The Civil War, and the Future of American Shakespeare Studies (Mark Bayer)

    Chapter 4 – The American Civil War and the 1864 Tercentenary of Shakespeare’s Birth (Joseph Navitsky)

    Chapter 5 – Outlaw Shakespeare: Frank James and Post-Civil War Justice (Darlena Ciraulo)


    Chapter 6 – Shakespeare, Cultural Production, and Class Consciousness in Antebellum New York City: Re-examining the Astor Place Riot (Matthew Kendrick)

    Chapter 7 "As bountiful as mines of India": Shakespeare as India and the First War of Indian Independence, 1857-1889 (Jess Hamlet)

    Chapter 8 – A Most Civil Discourse: Jacob Gordin’s The Jewish King Lear and the Jewish-American Immigrant Community (John Milam)

    Chapter 9 – "The Artist Must Take Sides": Paul Robeson and Civil Unrest (Robert Sawyer)

    Chapter 10 – The $64,000 Question: What Can Frances DeBerry tell us about Shakespeare Scholarship in Civil Rights Era America? (Jeanette Nguyen Tran)

    Chapter 11 – The "cockle of rebellion": Coriolanus During the Vietnam Era (Mary Steible)


    Chapter 12 – "Sea Changes": Civil Unrest in Shakespeare Studies and Beyond (Sharon O’Dair)


    Mark Bayer is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is the author of Theatre, Community, and Civic Engagement in Jacobean London (2011), a finalist for the 2012 George Freedley Memorial Award. He has written extensively on the enduring cultural authority of Shakespeare’s plays in contexts as diverse as nineteenth century America and the modern Middle East.

    Joseph Navitsky is Associate Professor of English at West Chester University. His essays on religious conflict and early modern drama have appeared in English Literary Renaissance, The International Journal of the Classical Tradition, and Texas Studies of Literature and Language, and his most recent work on American receptions of Shakespeare has appeared in the Journal of American Culture. He served as assistant director of the Shakespeare Association of American from 2013-2016.