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Shakespeare, Popularity and the Public Sphere


  • Date Published: April 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316615164

£ 18.99

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About the Authors
  • In late Elizabethan England, political appeals to the people were considered dangerously democratic, even seditious: the commons were supposed to have neither political voice nor will. Yet such appeals happened so often that the regime coined the word 'popularity' to condemn the pursuit of popular favor. Jeffrey S. Doty argues that in plays from Richard II to Coriolanus, Shakespeare made the tactics of popularity - and the wider public they addressed - vital aspects of politics. Shakespeare figured the public not as an extension of the royal court, but rather as a separate entity that, like the Globe's spectators who surrounded the fictional princes on its thrust stage, subjected their rulers to relentless scrutiny. For ordinary playgoers, Shakespeare's plays offered good practice for understanding the means and ends of popularity - and they continue to provide insight to the public relations strategies that have come to define modern political culture.

    • An innovative study of Shakespeare's theatre as a major institution within the early modern public sphere
    • Connects Shakespeare to modern political culture through his attention to popularity and public relations
    • Offers a theoretically nuanced account of the public sphere by exploring how ordinary playgoers engaged with Elizabethan and Jacobean politics through the plays they watched
    • Bridges recent studies in early modern historiography with Shakespeare studies, with a particular focus on political communication/publics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This intelligent, lucid, and very well documented book will prove nonetheless an indispensable work for all further thinking on this issue of overriding importance for Shakespeareans.' Chris Fitter, Notes and Queries

    '… an engaging approach to the intersection of politics, publicity, and popularity in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth century England, illustrating the way these notions are portrayed and put into action in six plays by William Shakespeare.' Alejandro Garcia-Reidy, Bulletin of the Comediantes

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316615164
    • length: 218 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 150 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Richard II and the early modern public sphere
    3. Henry IV, the theater, and the popular appetite
    4. Political interpretation in Julius Caesar
    5. Measure for Measure and the problem of popularity
    6. Coriolanus the popular man

  • Author

    Jeffrey S. Doty, University of North Texas
    Jeffrey S. Doty is an assistant professor of English at the University of North Texas.

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