Richard III, Troilus and Cressida, Antony and Cleopatra—these were figures of intense signification long before Shakespeare took up the task of giving them new life on the stage. And when he did, Linda Charnes argues, he used these legendary figures to explore a new kind of fame—notorious identity—an infamy based not on the moral and ethical “use value” of legend but on a commodification of identity itself: one that must be understood in the context of early modern England’s emergent capitalism and its conditions of economic, textual, theatrical, and cultural reproduction. Ranging across cultural materialism, new historicism, feminist psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, deconstruction, and theories of postmodernity, the author practices a “theory without organs”—which she provocatively calls a constructive “New Hystericism”—retheorizing the discourses of reigning methodologies as much as those in Shakespeare’s plays.
An impressive virtuoso performance on an important topic in Shakespearean cultural studies… The book’s strengths lie in its ability to conduct clever textual analyses…couched in skillfully maneuvered, diverse theoretical contexts;…its generally rich and sophisticated tissue of associate, interdisciplinary European post-modernist discourses…and popular culture topics;…and its occasional penetrating historical and cultural generalizations… This is a prodigious first attempt and it deserves praise for that reason. In subject and ambition, it should make for serious reading in post-modernist Shakespeare.
A dazzling and challenging book.
Charnes’s writing is witty, and the book as a whole is wonderfully fresh, not only in the originality of its analysis, but also in its irreverence toward received opinion.
- 227 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
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