Posts Categorized: Off-the-shelf

Some spellbinding October reads

As we enter the year’s spookiest month, explore a trio of contemporary novels that involve early modern witchcraft. Much has changed since the deadly witch hunts of Shakespeare’s era, and the contrasting approaches of these books are a good way to see how far we’ve come.


The origins of the English history play – Excerpt: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War

What is the English history play? “A dramatic study of civil conflict in England,” writes David Bevington in this excerpt from the newly published Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and War. “Above all, its purpose is to explore the causes, the struggles, the personal motivations of the major participants, and the means by which civil conflict… Continue Reading »


Excerpt: ‘Shakespearean’ by Robert McCrum

When Robert McCrum began his recovery from a life-changing stroke in the 1990s, he discovered that the only words that made sense to him were snatches of Shakespeare. The First Folio became an endless source of inspiration for “journeys of the mind.” This excerpt from his recent book “Shakespearean” is an ode to “Hamlet.”


Excerpt – ‘All’s Well’ by Mona Awad

Mona Awad’s new, darkly funny novel All’s Well tells the story of a theater professor who is convinced that staging All’s Well That Ends Well will remedy all of her woes. Along the way, she meets three strange benefactors with an eerie knowledge of her past and a tantalizing promise for her future.


Excerpt – Shakespeare and Forgetting – by Peter Holland

Shakespeare and Forgetting by Peter Holland considers how Shakespeare explores the concept of forgetting and how forgetting functions in performance. The excerpt below focuses on the character of Sir John Falstaff, who appears in several of Shakespeare’s plays. Why do multiple characters struggle to remember Falstaff’s name?



Richard III and disability: Excerpt – “Unfixable Forms” by Katherine Schaap Williams

What did Richard III and his disability represent to Shakespeare’s original audiences? And how has this Shakespeare villain shaped the field of early modern disability studies today? Katherine Schaap Williams takes a closer look at these questions in the below excerpt from her recently published book, Unfixable Forms: Disability, Performance, and the Early Modern English… Continue Reading »


Excerpt – “A Short History of Shakespeare in Performance” by Richard Schoch

How have directors sought to make Shakespeare productions relevant to contemporary political issues? What is it about these plays that makes them so politically resonant? Richard Schoch (Queen’s University Belfast) explores these questions in the excerpt below, taken from A Short History of Shakespeare in Performance, which was recently published as part of Cambridge University… Continue Reading »


Excerpt – “Ghosts, Holes, Rips and Scrapes: Shakespeare in 1619, Bibliography in the Longue Durée” by Zachary Lesser

What’s the most influential book for Shakespeare scholarship? The First Folio of 1623 immediately comes to mind for many. However, there’s another book, less famous but still incredibly important for Shakespeare scholars: Edward Gwynn’s set of Pavier Quartos, found in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. Zachary Lesser takes a close look at the plays bound… Continue Reading »


Excerpt: ‘Irregular Unions’ by Katharine Cleland

Katharine Cleland examines Jessica and Lorenzo’s clandestine marriage in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in this excerpt from her book “Irregular Unions.”