Shakespeare And Literary Theory Oxford Shakespeare Topics

How is it that the British literary critic Terry Eagleton can say that 'it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel Marx Nietzsche Freud Wittgenstein and Derrida' or that the Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Zizek can observe that 'Shakespeare without doubt had read Lacan'? Shakespeare and Literary Theory argues that literary theory is less an external set of ideas anachronistically imposed on Shakespeare's texts than a mode or several modes of critical reflection inspired by and emerging from his writing These modes together constitute what we might call 'Shakespearian theory' theory that is not just about Shakespeare but also derives its energy from Shakespeare To name just a few examples Karl Marx was an avid reader of Shakespeare and used Timon of Athens to illustrate aspects of his economic theory psychoanalytic theorists from Sigmund Freud to Jacques Lacan have explained some of their most axiomatic positions with reference to Hamlet Michel Foucault's early theoretical writing on dreams and madness returns repeatedly to Macbeth Jacques Derrida's deconstructive philosophy is articulated in dialogue with Shakespeare's plays including Romeo and Juliet French feminism's best known essay is Helene Cixous's meditation on Antony and Cleopatra certain strands of queer theory derive their impetus from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's reading of the Sonnets Gilles Deleuze alights on Richard III as an exemplary instance of his theory of the war machine and postcolonial theory owes a large debt to Aime Cesaire's revision of The Tempest By reading what theoretical movements from formalism and structuralism to cultural materialism and actor network theory have had to say about and in concert with Shakespeare we can begin to get a sense of how much the DNA of contemporary literary theory contains a startling abundance of chromoHow is it that the British literary critic Terry Eagleton can say that 'it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel Marx Nietzsche Freud Wittgenstein and Derrida' or that the Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Zizek can observe that 'Shakespeare without doubt had read Lacan'? Shakespeare and Literary Theory argues that literary theory is less an external set of ideas anachronistically imposed on Shakespeare's texts than a mode or several modes of critical reflection inspired by and emerging from his writing These modes together constitute what we might call 'Shakespearian theory' theory that is not just about Shakespeare but also derives its energy from Shakespeare To name just a few examples Karl Marx was an avid reader of Shakespeare and used Timon of Athens to illustrate aspects of his economic theory psychoanalytic theorists from Sigmund Freud to Jacques Lacan have explained some of their most axiomatic positions with reference to Hamlet Michel Foucault's early theoretical writing on dreams and madness returns repeatedly to Macbeth Jacques Derrida's deconstructive philosophy is articulated in dialogue with Shakespeare's plays including Romeo and Juliet French feminism's best known essay is Helene Cixous's meditation on Antony and Cleopatra certain strands of queer theory derive their impetus from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's reading of the Sonnets Gilles Deleuze alights on Richard III as an exemplary instance of his theory of the war machine and postcolonial theory owes a large debt to Aime Cesaire's revision of The Tempest By reading what theoretical movements from formalism and structuralism to cultural materialism and actor network theory have had to say about and in concert with Shakespeare we can begin to get a sense of how much the DNA of contemporary literary theory contains a startling abundance of chromoHow is it that the British literary critic Terry Eagleton can say that 'it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel Marx Nietzsche Freud Wittgenstein and Derrida' or that the Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Zizek can observe that 'Shakespeare without doubt had read Lacan'? Shakespeare and Literary Theory argues that literary theory is less an external set of ideas anachronistically imposed on Shakespeare's texts than a mode or several modes of critical reflection inspired by and emerging from his writing These modes together constitute what we might call 'Shakespearian theory' theory that is not just about Shakespeare but also derives its energy from Shakespeare To name just a few examples Karl Marx was an avid reader of Shakespeare and used Timon of Athens to illustrate aspects of his economic theory psychoanalytic theorists from Sigmund Freud to Jacques Lacan have explained some of their most axiomatic positions with reference to Hamlet Michel Foucault's early theoretical writing on dreams and madness returns repeatedly to Macbeth Jacques Derrida's deconstructive philosophy is articulated in dialogue with Shakespeare's plays including Romeo and Juliet French feminism's best known essay is Helene Cixous's meditation on Antony and Cleopatra certain strands of queer theory derive their impetus from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's reading of the Sonnets Gilles Deleuze alights on Richard III as an exemplary instance of his theory of the war machine and postcolonial theory owes a large debt to Aime Cesaire's revision of The Tempest By reading what theoretical movements from formalism and structuralism to cultural materialism and actor network theory have had to say about and in concert with Shakespeare we can begin to get a sense of how much the DNA of contemporary literary theory contains a startling abundance of chromo


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    There must be a lot of people out there even some prominent Shakespeare scholars with suspicions about the value of applying modern literary theories to works of the English Renaissance At times it is difficult to resist such suspicion or to see exactly whose ingenuity we are supposed to be appreciating Shakespeare's or the critic's Jonathan Gil Harris addresses such concerns head on 'to what extent' he asks 'do the desires of the reader produce the meaning attributed to the text?' But in Shakespeare and Literary Theory he is a very persuasive advocate of back projecting critical modernism onto Shakespeare Especially so he argues given that Shakespeare's work often anticipates modern critical preoccupations with language and identity for instanceThe book is no light bed time read It requires concentration and stamina to engage with what are often challenging ideas If Gil Harris himself occasionally finds Lacan 'extraordinarily difficult' for example what chance have we got? Fortunately he does not assume any great familiarity on our part with key terms like diachronic reification and prosopopeia and defines them on first use And although several pages will probably require careful re reading one of Gil Harris' great strengths is that he frequently summarises and constantly compares and contrasts each new theory with those that have already been discussed Here's an example 'for Freud then as for structuralists and deconstructionalists opposites are connected and contain the trace of each other'Gil Harris isn't averse to punning or to humour but his main aim throughout is to convey difficult ideas with maximum clarity and this he does with great skill and eloquence His book introduces twelve schools of literary theory altogether and given that it has no real rival those wanting to extend their knowledge of them need look no further