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Shakespeare, the Queen's Men, and the Elizabethan Performance of History

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  • Date Published: September 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107629066

$ 49.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The Elizabethan history play was one of the most prevalent dramatic genres of the 1590s, and so was a major contribution to Elizabethan historical culture. The genre has been well served by critical studies that emphasize politics and ideology; however, there has been less interest in the way history is interrogated as an idea in these plays. Drawing in period-sensitive ways on the field of contemporary performance theory, this book looks at the Shakespearean history play from a fresh angle, by first analyzing the foundational work of the Queen's Men, the playing company that invented the popular history play. Through innovative readings of their plays including The Famous Victories of Henry V before moving on to Shakespeare's 1 Henry VI, Richard III, and Henry V, this book investigates how the Queen's Men's self-consciousness about performance helped to shape Shakespeare's dramatic and historical imagination.

    • Draws on modern and post-modern performance, providing an original perspective on the history play theory
    • Analyzes little-known plays from the Queen's Men, putting Shakespeare in dialogue with important but under-read plays from the period
    • Combines theoretical research with close attention to careful readings of dramatic language
    Read more


    • Winner of Yale University's Samuel and Ronnie Heyman prize 2010

    Reviews & endorsements

    "...Walsh persistently sticks to the question about the idea of 'history', and introduces bold and thrilling assumptions through close analysis and careful reading of the lines....This book stimulatingly reassures us that paying enough attention to the early modern theatrical conditions is important and effective for studying Shakespeare's history plays."
    -Yukiko Mori

    "Brian Walsh’s book is a welcome addition to recent attempts to account for the development of Shakespeare’s performance of history, as part of an ongoing effort by contemporary scholars to recover the theoretical influences that shaped the tetralogies."
    -James P. Bednarz, Modern Philology Book Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107629066
    • length: 246 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Dialogues with the dead: history, performance, and Elizabethan theater
    2. Theatrical time and historical time: the temporality of the past in The Famous Victories of Henry V
    3. Figuring history: truth, poetry, and report in The True Tragedy of Richard III
    4. 'Unkind division': the double absence of performing history in 1 Henry VI
    5. Richard III and Theatrum Historiae
    6. Henry V and the extra-theatrical historical imagination
    Conclusion: traces of Henry/traces of history.

  • Author

    Brian Walsh, Yale University, Connecticut
    Brian Walsh is Assistant Professor in the English Department at Yale University.


    • Winner of Yale University's Samuel and Ronnie Heyman prize 2010

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