Ecocritical Shakespeare

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  • Edited by Lynne Bruckner, Chatham University, USA and Daniel Brayton, Middlebury College, USA
  • Series: Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity
  • Can reading, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare contribute to the health of the planet? To what degree are Shakespeare's plays anthropocentric or ecocentric? What is the connection between the literary and the real when it comes to ecological conduct? This collection, engages with these pressing questions surrounding ecocritical Shakespeare, in order to provide a better understanding of where and how ecocritical readings should be situated. The volume combines multiple critical perspectives, juxtaposing historicism and presentism, as well as considering ecofeminism and pedagogy; and addresses such topics as early modern flora and fauna, and the neglected areas of early modern marine ecology and oceanography.

    Concluding with an assessment of the challenges-and necessities-of teaching Shakespeare ecocritically, Ecocritical Shakespeare not only broadens the implications of ecocriticism in early modern studies, but represents an important contribution to this growing field.
  • Contents: Foreword, Greg Garrard; Introduction: warbling invaders, Dan Brayton and Lynne Bruckner; Part I Contexts for Reading: Vermin and parasites: Shakespeare's animal architectures, Karen Raber; The ecology of self in Midsummer Night's Dream, Robert N. Watson; Gaia and the great chain of being, Gabriel Egan; Is it Shakespearean ecocriticism if it isn't presentist?, Sharon O'Dair. Part II Fauna, Flora, Weather, Water: 'The nobleness of life': spontaneous generation and excremental life in Antony and Cleopatra, Edward J. Geisweidt; The well-hung shrew, J.A. Shea and Paul Yachnin; Felling Falstaff in Windsor park, Vin Nardizzi; It's all about the gillyvors: engendering art and nature in The Winter's Tale, Jennifer Munroe; Tongues in the storm: Shakespeare, ecological crisis, and the resources of genre, Steve Mentz; Shakespeare and the global ocean, Dan Brayton. Part III Presentism and Pedagogy: An ecocritic's Macbeth, Richard Kerridge; Ophelia's plants and the death of violets, Rebecca Laroche; Teaching Shakespeare in the ecotone, Lynne Bruckner. Afterword: ecocriticism on the lip of a lion, Simon C. Estok; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Editor: Lynne Bruckner is an Associate Professor of English at Chatham University, USA, and Daniel Brayton is an Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures at Middlebury College, USA
  • Reviews: 'Bruckner and Brayton address a subject of great current scholarly interest-Shakespearean ecocriticism-and enrich it with a series of excellent, provocative essays.'
    Bruce Boehrer, Florida State University, USA and author of Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature

    'These 13 essays are united by the theme of continuity: Shakespeare's work explores a human continuity with the natural world and ecocritical approaches to his work span a continuum between historicism and presentism… Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and above.' Choice

    'The editors distinguish 'ecocritical' analyses from the generations of scholars writing on 'nature in Shakespeare', positioning these new offerings as scientifically literate, driven by a 'presentist' concern with environmental degradation, and as recognizing that previous conceptualizations of the natural world have often been compromised by anthropocentricism and politics.'
    Times Literary Supplement

    '… will be invaluable to readers interested in eco-analysis and the emerging interface between Shakespeare and ecocriticism. These essays plot a course for early modern literary analysis framed in terms of the multiplicity of nature’s meaning in the English Renaissance.'
    British Society for Literature and Science
    '[This] collection, remind us that Shakespeare is more than a poet of humanity. He understood natural and animal worlds, and his plays and poems provide keys to those worlds, as well as to our own.'
    Shakespeare Quarterly