History and Theory: The Case of Shakespeare

Tutor: David Wootton

Module type: MA Option

Module code: HIS00076M

The module will provide a survey of historical and interdisciplinary approaches to Shakespeare. It will thus simultaneously provide an introduction to key topics in the historiography and methodology of Renaissance studies (complementing but not overlapping with the core module in the History Early Modern MA) and it will provide an introduction to key issues in the study of Shakespeare (complementing but not overlapping with the Shakespeare module in the CREMS MA). It will encourage reflection on the role of interdisciplinarity in the humanities.

Seminars are likely to cover topics such as the following:

    • History of Ideas: The Great Chain of Being: Lovejoy (1936) and Tillyard (1943)
    • History of the book: the Hinman collator (late 1940s) and the printing of the First Folio
    • Anthropology: Clifford Geertz, cockfighting in Bali (1972), and new historicism
    • Postructuralism: Foucault (1975) and Greenblatt's “The Improvisation of Power” (1980) and “Invisible Bullets” (1988)
    • Social history: Andrew Gurr on playgoing (1987, 3rd ed 2004)
    • History of Medicine: The One Sex Model: Laqueur (1990) and “Fiction and Friction” (1988)
    • Church history: Peter Lake reads Measure for Measure (2002)
    • Microhistory: Charles Nicholl, The Lodger (2008)


Further reading   

  • Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt, Practicing New Historicism (2000)
  • Kiernan Ryan ed., New Historicism and Cultural Materialism (1996)
  • H. Aram Veeser ed., The New Historicism (1989)
  • The Norton Shakespeare, ed. S. Greenblatt et al.