Spiritual Shakespeares  book cover
1st Edition

Spiritual Shakespeares

ISBN 9780415319676
Published October 6, 2005 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

Spiritual Shakespeares is the first book to explore the scope for reading Shakespeare spiritually in the light of contemporary theory and current world events. Ewan Fernie has brought together an exciting cast of critics in order to respond to the ‘religious turn’ in recent literary theory and to the spiritualized politics of terrorism and the ‘War on Terror’.

Exploring a genuinely new perspective within Shakespeare Studies, the volume suggests that experiencing the spiritual intensities of the plays could lead us back to dramatic intensity as such. It tests spirituality from a political perspective, as well as subjecting politics to an unusual spiritual critique. Amongst its controversial and provocative arguments is the idea that a consideration of spirituality might point the way forward for materialist criticism.

Reaching across and beyond literary studies to offer challenging and powerful contributions from leading scholars, this book offers unique readings of some very familiar plays.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors  General editor’s preface  Acknowledgements  Foreword: Of hyper-reality John D. Caputo  Introduction: Shakespeare, spirituality and contemporary criticism Ewan Fernie  1. ‘Where hope is coldest’: All’s Well that Ends Well Kiernan Ryan  2. Harry’s (in)human face David Ruiter  3. Waiting for Gobbo Lowell Gallagher  4. ‘Salving the mail’: perjury, grace and the disorder of things in Love’s Labour’s Lost Philippa Berry  5. The Shakespearean fetish Lisa Freinkel  6. Bottom’s secret John J. Joughin  7. Spectres of Hamlet Richard Kearney  8. The last act: presentism, spirituality and the politics of Hamlet  Ewan Fernie  Afterword  Jonathan Dollimore  Bibliography  Index

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Ewan Fernie is Senior Lecturer in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is author of Shame in Shakespeare, leading editor of Reconceiving the Renaissance, and founding editor (with Simon Palfrey) of a new series of very short books called Shakespeare Now! In 2004, he was selected by Gary Taylor and the Hudson-Strode Program as one of ‘the six most brilliant scholars of Renaissance Drama in the world under 40’.


‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in secular materialism, theology, or contemporary theory. That at least is what the present collection sets out so suggestively to show.’ - John D. Caputo (from the foreword)

‘Readers will find here an engagement with both Shakespeare and spirituality which is intelligent, original, and challengingly optimistic, one which surely succeeds in its wish to "reinvigorate and strengthen politically progressive materialist criticism".’ - Jonathan Dollimore (from the afterword)

'Fernie has done a very good job in bringing together a provocative and intelligent set of essays. Spiritual Shakespeares offers a fresh and edgy perspective on the critically hot topic of religion ... [it] deserves attention not only from scholars and critics interested in Shakespeare and theory or in Shakespeare and religion, but also from professional readers looking for new approaches to Shakespeare's works.' - Graham Hammill, University of Notre Dame

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