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Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and MontaignePower and Subjectivity from Richard II to Hamlet$
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Hugh Grady

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199257607.001.0001

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Introduction: Historicism and the Cultural Present in Shakespeare Studies: Subjectivity in Early and Late Modernity

Introduction: Historicism and the Cultural Present in Shakespeare Studies: Subjectivity in Early and Late Modernity

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: Historicism and the Cultural Present in Shakespeare Studies: Subjectivity in Early and Late Modernity
Source:
Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and Montaigne
Author(s):

Hugh Grady (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199257607.003.0001

This introductory chapter begins with an analysis of how historicist approaches to Shakespeare have come to dominate the field, obscuring the ‘presentist’ qualities of contemporary historicism. But a confrontation with the thinking and feeling of the ‘now’ is inevitable and desirable in our approaches to the cultural past, with the works of Shakespeare a crucial case in point. The following analysis of Machiavellian and Montaignean influences on the Henriad and Hamlet is itself informed by the rise in the 90s of a number of modifications to the theories of the subject of the 80s. These theories arose from texts of Foucault and Althusser, and, in addition to their insights, they led at times to reductive readings, blind to the actions of agency. A corrective is provided by the Frankfurt School approach to power and subjectivity. Both the past and the cultural present are relevant to this study, which uses Machiavelli and Montaigne as historical sources with relevance to our own day and its cultural theory.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, historicist approaches, presentist qualities, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Foucault, Althusser, Frankfurt School

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