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Chapter 3 - Revolutionary Shakespeare

Julius Caesar and the Rhetorical Fashioning of Ideologies of Freedom

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 Boston Massacre was a pivotal event in the radicalization of American colonists that led to the Revolution. Barely three months after the ‘massacre’ took place, the American Company advertised a performance of Julius Caesar that evoked the republican discourse surrounding the event. Indeed, the play would appear to present a perfect opportunity to foster the rhetoric of republican revolutionary fervour, and in fact Julius Caesar and its adaptations were often cited by revolutionary leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Yet, after this initial performance, the play was not produced very often during the revolutionary period. This essay explores the ideological conflicts within the Patriot movement that led to the relative scarcity of these productions, despite the drama’s centrality to the rhetoric of the revolution.

Type
Chapter
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Shakespeare at War
A Material History
, pp. 27 - 38
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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