Shakespeare and the Politics of Commoners: Digesting the New Social History

ISBN : 9780198806899

Chris Fitter
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jul 2017
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Shakespeare and the Politics of Commoners is a highly original contribution to our understanding of Shakespeare's plays. It breaks important new ground in introducing readers, lay and scholarly alike, to the existence and character of the political culture of the mass of ordinary commoners in Shakespeare's England, as revealed by the recent findings of 'the new social history'. The volume thereby helps to challenge the traditional myths of a non-political commons and a culture of obedience. It also brings together leading Shakespeareans, who digest recent social history, with eminent early modern social historians, who turn their focus on Shakespeare. This genuinely cross-disciplinary approach generates fresh readings of over ten of Shakespeare's plays and locates the impress on Shakespearean drama of popular political thought and pressure in this period of perceived crisis. The volume is unique in engaging and digesting the dramatic importance of the discoveries of the new social history, thereby resituating and revaluing Shakespeare within the social depth of politics.


1 Chris Fitter: Introduction: Rethinking Shakespeare in the Social Depth of Politics
2 Peter Lake: The Paradoxes of 'Popularity' in Shakespeare's History Plays
3 David Rollison: Shakespeare's Commonwealth
4 Andy Wood: Brave Minds and Hard Hands: Work, Drama, and Social Relations in the Hungry 1590s
5 Thomas Cartelli: The Speaking Silence of Citizens in Shakespeare's Richard III: Hidden and Public Transcripts
6 Stephen Longstaffe: The Plebeians Revise the Uprising: What the Actors Made of Shakespeare's Jack Cade - or, Laughing with the English Radical Tradition
7 Paola Pugliatti: Shakespeare and the 'Military Revolution': The Cultural and Social Weapons of Reformed War
8 Markku Peltonen: Popularity and the Art of Rhetoric: Julius Caesar in Context
9 David Norbrook: Rehearsing the Plebeians: Coriolanus and the Reading of Roman History
10 Chris Fitter: 'As full of grief as age': Protesting the Poor Law in King Lear
11 Jeffrey S. Doty: Experiences of Authority in The Tempest

About the author: 

Chris Fitter is Professor of English at Rutgers University. He gained his PhD from St. John's College, University of Oxford and has taught at Wroxton College and the University of Mississippi. His leading interests are in literature and the natural world, the politics of Shakespearean drama, and representations of poverty in Western literature.

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