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Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide

Edited by Stanley Wells and Lena Cowen Orlin

Publication Date - 03 April 2003

ISBN: 9780199245222

744 pages

In Stock


Edited by Stanley Wells and Lena Cowen Orlin, this stimulating and comprehensive guide to Shakespeare is an ideal text for undergraduate students. It includes over forty specially commissioned essays by an outstanding team of scholars. Each essay is written in an accessible and engaging style and is followed by annotated suggestions for further reading.
Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide is divided into four key parts. Part One offers concise introductions to the literary and historical contexts in which Shakespeare lived and worked. It covers the society, culture, language, theatre, and playwriting conventions of Shakespeare's time and also discusses his contemporary impact. Part Two offers critical overviews of Shakespeare's achievements in the major genres. Each overview is followed by a reading that explores Shakespeare's use of the traditions, scope, and boundaries of that genre in one of his key works. Part Three discusses current critical approaches to the study of Shakespeare. Each chapter outlines a specific approach and is followed by a reading applying that approach to one of Shakespeare's works. Part Four offers chapters on Shakespeare's intellectual and cultural impact over the ages.


  • Offers concise, accessible, and engaging introductions to the literary and historical contexts in which Shakespeare lived and worked
  • Surveys the major genres and explores Shakespeare's use of convention and innovation, through close readings of plays and poetry
  • Includes analyses of a wide range of critical approaches and offers practical examples of criticism in action
  • Guides the reader to reliable sources for further reading and useful web links

About the Author(s)

Stanley Wells is currently Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, and was Professor of Shakespeare Studies, and Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham from 1988 to 97, where he is now Emeritus Professor. He is the general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, and co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works. With Peter Holland he is general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare Topics, and, with Michael Dobson, he recently edited the best-selling Oxford Companion to Shakespeare.
Lena Cowen Orlin is Professor of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Executive Director of the Shakespeare Association of America. Her publications include Material London, Ca. 1600 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), Elizabethan Households (University of Washington Press, 1995), and Private Matters and Public Cultures in Post-Reformation England (Cornell University Press, 1994).

Table of Contents

    Part 1. Shakespeare's Life and Times
    1. Why Study Shakespeare?, Stanley Wells
    2. Shakespeare's Life and Career, Lois Potter
    3. Theater in London, Gabriel Egan
    4. Shakespeare's Audiences, Margaret Jane Kidnie
    5. Conventions of Playwriting, Peter Thomson
    6. Shakespeare's Fellow Dramatists, A. R. Braunmuller
    7. The Language of Shakespeare, David Crystal
    8. Shakespeare's Verse, Russ McDonald
    9. The Society of Shakespeare's England, Carole Levin
    10. Daily Life in Town and Country, Joan Thirsk
    11. Love, Sex, and Marriage, Martin Ingram
    12. Changing Attitudes Towards Religion, Peter Lake
    13. Ideas of Order, Lena Cowen Orlin
    14. Shakespeare's View of the World, Emily C. Bartels
    15. Introduction, Lena Cowen Orlin
    16. Romantic Comedies, William C. Carroll
    READING: Twelfth Night, or What You Will
    17. English History Plays, Phyllis Rackin
    READING: Henry V
    18. Tragedies, Linda Woodbridge
    READING: Macbeth
    19. Roman Plays, Alexander Leggatt
    READING: Julius Caesar
    20. Romances, Reginald Foakes
    READING: The Winter's Tale
    21. Comical and Tragical, Paul Edmondson
    READING: Measure for Measure
    22. Non-Dramatic Poetry, Lynne Magnusson
    READING: Shakespeare's Sonnets
    23. Unfamiliar Shakespeare, Alan Armstrong
    24. The Critical Tradition, Michael Taylor
    25. Humanist Interpretations, Michael D. Bristol
    READING: King Lear
    26. Character Criticism, Christy Desmet
    READING: Hamlet
    27. Source Study, Leah Scragg
    READING: As You Like It
    28. Close Reading, Inga-Stina Ewbank
    READING: Richard III
    29. Feminist Criticism, Jean E. Howard
    READING: Othello
    30. Studies in Sexuality, Bruce R. Smith
    READING: The Merchant of Venice
    31. Psychoanalytic Criticisms, Lynn Enterline
    READING: Venus and Adonis
    32. Materialist Criticisms, Jonathan Gil Harris
    READING: Henry IV Part One
    33. Post-Colonial Criticism, Jyotsna Singh
    READING: The Tempest
    34. Deconstruction, Kiernan Ryan
    READING: Romeo and Juliet
    35. Performance History: Shakespeare on the Stage 1660-2001, Patricia Tatspaugh
    READING: A Midsummer Night's Dream
    36. Performance Criticism, Miriam Gilbert
    READING: The Taming of the Shrew
    37. Introduction, Terence Hawkes
    38. Shakespeare Published, Laurie Maguire
    39. Shakespeare and the Modern British Theatre, Michael Billington
    40. Film and Video, Tony Howard
    41. The Question of Authorship, David Kathman
    42. Shakespeare's Influence, John Gross
    43. Shakespeare and Translation, Ton Hoenselaars
    44. Commemorating Shakespeare, Georgianna Ziegler
    45. Internet and CD ROM Resources, Michael Best