1st Edition

Shakespeare’s Military Spouses and Twenty-First-Century Warfare

By Kelsey Ridge Copyright 2021
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This volume presents a fresh look at the military spouses in Shakespeare’s Othello, 1 Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Macbeth, and Coriolanus, vital to understanding the plays themselves. By analysing the characters as military spouses, we can better understand current dynamics in modern American civilian and military culture as modern American military spouses live through the War on Terror. Shakespeare's Military Spouses and Twenty-First-Century Warfare explains what these plays have to say about the role of military families and cultural constructions of masculinity both in the texts themselves and in modern America. Concerns relevant to today’s military families – domestic violence, PTSD, infertility, the treatment of queer servicemembers, war crimes, and the growing civil-military divide – pervade Shakespeare’s works. These parallels to the contemporary lived experience are brought out through reference to memoirs written by modern-day military spouses, sociological studies of the American armed forces, and reports issued by the Department of Defence. Shakespeare’s military spouses create a discourse that recognizes the role of the military in national defence but criticizes risky or damaging behaviours and norms, promoting the idea of a martial identity that permits military defence without the dangers of toxic masculinity. Meeting at the intersection of Shakespeare Studies, trauma studies, and military studies, this focus on military spouses is a unique and unprecedented resource for academics in these fields, as well as for groups interested in Shakespeare and theatre as a way of thinking through and responding to psychiatric issues and traumatic experiences.

    "Our Great Captain’s Captain": An Introduction

    Chapter 1: "Our General’s Wife is Now the General": Desdemona and Emilia

    Chapter 2: "But Yet A Woman": Lady Percy and Lady Mortimer

    Chapter 3: "Think You I Am No Stronger Than My Sex": Portia and Calpurnia

    Chapter 4: "In Time of Action": Andromache and Patroclus

    Chapter 5: "Of A Woman Born": Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff

    Chapter 6: "Thy Valiantness Was Mine": Virgilia and Volumnia as Military (In)Dependents

    "My story being done": A Conclusion


    Kelsey Ridge earned her PhD in Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham in 2019. Her research concentrates on representations of the military, trauma, and gender/sexuality in English literature. She received her M.A. in English at University College London and her B.A. at Wellesley College. She has served as a dramaturg on opera and Shakespeare productions. She has published on The Tempest in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism.