Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Language of Power, the Power of Language

The Language of Power, the Power of Language

The Effects of Ambiguity on Sociopolitical Structures as Illustrated in Shakespeare’s Plays

Stephen Cohen

ISBN 9780674510562

Publication date: 07/26/1988

In a fusion of historicist and deconstructive reading strategies, Stephen Cohen asserts the fundamental force of ambiguity on social and political structures in Othello, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, and Measure for Measure. He argues that there is an inherently “radical” ambiguity which cannot be controlled by countries or wits. Drawing from the works of a wide range of critics, including Jacques Derrida and Stephen Greenblatt, Cohen show how language itself erodes usurpers’ intentions to shape a world according to their own designs. His account of the transactions between author and reader provides a skeptical critique of readings that remove the loose ends that such “radical” ambiguities impart to the text.

Book Details

  • 152 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 7 inches
  • Harvard University Department of English