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Introduction

A Material History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2023

Amy Lidster
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Sonia Massai
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

The Introduction establishes the distinctive focus and range of contributions within Shakespeare at War. This transhistorical material history prioritizes how Shakespeare is used at times of war from the mid-eighteenth century to the present, and shows how this focus sheds light on some of the core political issues dominating a conflict, the wartime role played by the arts, and the shifting cultural capital of Shakespeare for different communities. The Introduction argues for the importance of a ‘material’ emphasis: all contributions use a significant archival object as their starting point in order to establish how these items can help us recover different wartime stories, voices, and perspectives. In place of a single, linear history, our aim – through the structure, content, and material focus of the collection – is to embrace a plurality of histories. The Introduction also contextualizes the diversity of its twenty-six contributions: nineteen are essays by Shakespeare scholars, war historians, or public figures who have served in the British Army, while the remaining seven are by theatre directors who have directed Shakespeare while the UK was at war or have set their productions at times of war to encourage audiences to think critically about the complexities of major conflicts.

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Chapter
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Shakespeare at War
A Material History
, pp. 1 - 6
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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