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Shakespeare's Domestic Tragedies
Violence in the Early Modern Home

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  • Date Published: October 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108463300


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About the Authors
  • Domestic tragedy was an innovative genre, suggesting that the lives and sufferings of ordinary people were worthy of the dramatic scope of tragedy. In this compelling study, Whipday revises the narrative of Shakespeare's plays to show how this genre, together with neglected pamphlets, ballads, and other forms of 'cheap print' about domestic violence, informed some of Shakespeare's greatest works. Providing a significant reappraisal of Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth, the book argues that domesticity is central to these plays: they stage how societal and familial pressures shape individual agency; how the integrity of the house is associated with the body of the housewife; and how household transgressions render the home permeable. Whipday demonstrates that Shakespeare not only appropriated constructions of the domestic from domestic tragedies, but that he transformed the genre, using heightened language, foreign settings, and elite spheres to stage familiar domestic worlds.

    • Proposes a new generic category for Shakespeare's tragedies
    • Explores the significance of domestic violence in early modern culture and how it informs modern ideas of the issue
    • Offers readings of less well known domestic tragedies alongside more famous works
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    • Co-Winner, 2020 Shakespeare's Globe Book Award

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an elegantly written, important book: it firmly situates Shakespeare's works in the wider culture of his time and makes particularly enlightening links between cheap print, domestic drama and canonical tragedy.' Tom Macfaul, University of Oxford

    'Whipday convincingly demonstrates that Shakespeare's tragedies are very much in dialogue with common cultural conceptions of the English home.' Laura Kolb, The Times Literary Supplement

    '… Whipday's book presents fresh and convincing new readings that leave the reader with not simply a greater understanding of Shakespeare, but of domestic tragedy and popular crime literature … extremely impressive work of scholarship that stands as a vital addition to the study of domestic tragedy …' Lucy J.S. Clarke, Early Theatre

    'Shakespeare's Domestic Tragedies provides a fresh perspective on the centrality of household violence to early modern debates about the domestic sphere, as acts of violence put pressure on the ideologies that sustained the moral, political, and religious integrity of the home.' Katherine Gillen, Shakespeare Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108463300
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.408kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Shakespeare's domestic tragedies
    1. Home: contesting domestic order in The Taming of the Shrew
    2. Household: performing domestic relationships in Hamlet
    3. House: staging domestic space in Othello
    4. Neighbourhood: crossing domestic boundaries in Macbeth
    Afterword – outside domestic tragedy in King Lear.

  • Author

    Emma Whipday, Newcastle University
    Emma Whipday is Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at Newcastle University.


    • Co-Winner, 2020 Shakespeare's Globe Book Award

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