Shakespeare in the Present is a stunning collection of essays by Terence Hawkes, which engage with, explain, and explore 'presentism'. Presentism is a critical manoeuvre which uses relevant aspects of the contemporary as a crucial trigger for its investigations. It deliberately begins with the material present and lets that set the interrogative agenda. This book suggests ways in which its principles may be applied to aspects of Shakespeare's plays.
Hawkes concentrates on two main areas in which Presentism impacts on the study of Shakespeare. The first is the concept of 'devolution' in British politics. The second is presentism's commitment to a reversal of conceptual hierarchies such as primary/secondary and past/present, and the interaction between performance and reference. The result is to sophisticate and expand our notion of performing and to refocus interest on what the early modern theatre meant by the activity it termed 'playing'.
The Accents on Shakespeare series provides short, powerful 'cutting edge' accounts of and comments on new developments in Shakespeare studies. The volumes either 'apply' theory, or broaden and adapt it in order to connect with concrete teaching concerns. In the process, they also reflect and engage with the major developments in Shakespearean studies of the last ten years.
Since the New Accents series was established, 'theory' as a fundamental feature of the study of literature, the need for short, 'cutting-edge' accounts of and comments on new developments in literary studies has increased enormously. In the case of Shakespeare, Accents on Shakespeare supplies an exciting range of provocative new titles. The books in the series either apply theory, or broaden and adapt it to connect with teaching concerns. In the process they also reflect and engage with the major developments in Shakespearean studies of recent years.