A critical thinker for our time
Shakespeare’s seeming anticipation of the Brexit fiasco has not passed unnoticed by commentators. Scotland’s former first minister, Alex Salmond, likened then justice secretary Michael Gove and Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine to ‘Lord Macbeth’ and Lady Macbeth for having ‘dispatched’ David Cameron and Boris Johnson. As Johnson ruled himself out of the leadership race, the ghost of Shakespeare’s Caesar was invoked by reporters, who put the words ‘Et tu, Michael?’ into Johnson’s mouth. Ben Wright, a political correspondent for the BBC, began his analysis of the fallout by claiming that ‘“Shakespearian” is the word being mumbled by dazed politicians and pundits at Westminster’, adding the Machiavellian Richard III into the mix of appealing (if imperfect) Shakespearean comparisons.1
Ralph Fiennes, who played Richard III at the Almeida this English summer, weighed in to say that Gove is the ‘closest’ to embodying Richard III’s personality and role, ‘[b]ecause all those protestations about “I could never lead, it’s not in my DNA to lead”—that’s classic Richard’.2 One of Gove’s own former policy advisers tweeted, ‘It’s like the end of Hamlet. Tim Farron as Fortinbras is just going to walk on stage when everyone else is dead and claim the kingdom.’3 Quotations from Cymbeline (‘Britain is a world by itself’) and Richard II (‘this sceptred isle’) have been used by Brexit campaigners with scant regard for their original context. Some writers have even posed the pointless question, ‘Would William Shakespeare vote to Leave …’4
Now more than ever, Shakespeare is relevant and needed. But not as a public domain storehouse to be raided for quotations, and not as the subject of idle conjecture about authorial intention. The value of Shakespeare’s work is its richness, the plurality of positions articulated and the refusal to admit easy solutions. Shakespeare can be hard: he doesn’t tell you what to think, he teaches you how to think.
When Shakespeare was writing, England was undergoing something of an antithesis to the Brexit campaign. James VI of Scotland acceded to the English throne in 1603, and Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, acquired a new patron, becoming known as the King’s Men. James envisaged a united kingdom of England and Scotland, taking the ancient name of Britain, and in 1604 used his first address to the parliament to outline how the union would work: God had joined the two countries as man and wife, and James would lead as shepherd to their flocks. In the early years of James’ reign, Shakespeare revived the old King Lear legend for the stage, dramatising a narrative about the perils of dividing a kingdom on a whim. The vain old king, craving a public display of affection, gambles his kingdom’s stability on his daughters’ responses. Goneril and Regan use their ‘glib and oily art’ to make outrageous claims of the extent of their love for their father; honest Cordelia refuses to exaggerate, preferring to say nothing. The farcical public spectacle degenerates, and the ‘scattered kingdom’ falls into disarray in the mess that ensues.
If we really want to think about Brexit through Shakespeare, King Lear is a better place to start than the various references to scheming politicians in the history plays. But it still won’t give us an easy answer. We would need to know how to read closely—to understand the language of Shakespeare’s play in its own context, rather than mining it for soundbites. Even the question posed by Lear to his daughters in the opening scene, ‘Which of you shall we say doth love us most’—a question absolutely central to the whole tragedy that subsequently unfolds—has arguably been misread by most critics of the play. As Terry Hawkes observed in a much neglected article published in 1959, at the time Shakespeare was writing Lear there were two etymologically distinct words ‘love’—one meaning ‘to feel affection for’ but the other meaning ‘to estimate the value of’.5 So are Lear’s daughters—or Brexiters, for that matter—thinking emotionally or rationally? And is it prudent to adopt either approach? The elder daughters appear to be thinking solely in terms of economics: Goneril loves her father ‘[b]eyond what can be valued’ and Regan is made of that ‘self-mettle’ (a coin image) as her sister. Both seek to draw an opulent share of the kingdom.
Presumably they would have been swayed by the lure of retaining £275 million per week if it had been on the table as an incentive to act. The youngest daughter, Cordelia, focuses on duty and obligation rather than quantifiable value, suggesting that she will continue to love her father according to her bond. Her stubborn, perhaps proud refusal to play the game emphasises that she is her father’s daughter, and although she clings to her principles, she suffers for it. Neither model is endorsed, but the dramatised conflict has the potential to serve as a cautionary tale. Beyond close reading, then, we need an understanding of how drama works to create meaning in conjunction with thinking playgoers who generate their own interpretations. We can’t sit back and wait passively for Shakespeare to give us direction: we need to engage, to think critically about the construction and representation of alternative viewpoints in the play, and work through these issues to arrive at our own conclusions.
In other words, Shakespeare can teach us critical-thinking skills. Brevity may be the soul of wit, as Polonius tells us, but the art of concision required by tweets and text messages won’t by itself provide a solid training for in-depth analysis. Short-form writing, like quick thinking, has its virtues, but an ability to engage with complex and abstract issues that require time and reflection, and what we might call long-form thinking, is a skill that requires patience to learn. I want my students to have both kinds of skills: the ability to think quickly and the ability to digest complicated material. Literature and theatre studies offer an almost unique opportunity to grapple not only with dense theoretical concerns and abstract thinking, but also direct application of those with complex and stimulating texts and performances. In the English language, Shakespeare is the writer whose perspicacity and bold imagination has placed him squarely at the centre of artistic, pedagogical and scholarly innovation. Four hundred years after his death, his work continues to challenge us to devise new ways of thinking, new ways of creating and new ways of learning.
‘What news, my lord?’ (Hamlet, 1.5)
Is there anything new to say about Shakespeare? One might be forgiven for assuming that the subject of Shakespeare’s works had been exhausted, but if anything the opposite is true. Exciting new discoveries are being made and new ways of thinking are emerging all the time.
Perhaps the single most important discovery was announced by the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) team in May this year, a month after digging had commenced on the site of the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch, in the north of London.6 The Curtain was the playhouse where Shakespeare’s company performed circa 1597–98, and would probably have been the venue for performances of Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus and some of the Henry VI and Henry IV plays, and almost certainly the premiere of Henry V. Long assumed to be a polygonal building akin to the Globe or the Rose, the Curtain is now known to have been rectangular, measuring approximately 22 × 30 metres (quite large; possibly as much as double its near neighbour, the Theatre, whose salvaged timber was used to construct the first Globe theatre in 1599). The fact of its rectangular structure means that the Henry V Chorus referring to the ‘wooden O’ must have been a later addition, for the Globe—and thus promoting the company’s spectacular new venue rather than apologising for any perceived shabbiness of its temporary home, the Curtain. The discovery also allows for ‘a completely different genealogy of early modern theatre spaces—one that not only links playhouses more directly to the Inns within the City of London that were also used for theatrical performances until the end of the 17th century, but that also can now recognise that rectangular or square playhouses weren’t outliers, but just as “normal” as round ones’.7
A number of archival discoveries have also been announced during the quater-centenary celebrations. Eyewitness accounts of Shakespeare’s plays in performance during his lifetime are exceptionally rare, but in March it was announced that Heather Wolfe, curator of manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, had discovered a historical account in the Venice state archives of Italian and French diplomats describing a performance of Shakespeare’s Pericles around 1616. As part of the Shakespeare Documented project she leads, Wolfe also produced a fresh transcription of a 1611 account of one of Shakespeare’s plays in performance, and corrected an error that had been reproduced in scholarship since 1930.8 When astrologer and quack doctor Simon Forman described the character Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, he reputedly noted to himself: ‘Beware of trusting feigned beggars of fawning fellows’—but Wolfe demonstrates that it is ‘fawning fellons’ who must be avoided. Autolycus is more a felon than a fellow, after all. Apparently not content with these archival finds, Wolfe has also recently been in the news for having discovered about a dozen seventeenth-century copies of Shakespeare’s coat of arms explicitly labelled ‘Shakespeare the player’—thus demonstrating that the Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was indeed the man who wrote the plays attributed to ‘William Shakespeare’.9
And of course 2016 has seen the ‘discovery’—or more likely, canny revelation—of previously unknown or unavailable early editions of Shakespeare’s works, including a First Folio (1623) in the library of Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, and another auctioned by Christie’s on 25 May. In response to a piece I wrote for the Conversation about these additional folios, a French academic tantalisingly suggested that yet another copy will be brought to light in the near future. The fact is, First Folios of Shakespeare’s works are not rare books: when this mysterious ‘new’ copy is announced, it will be number 236 to have survived from an original print run of about 750. By contrast, a great many plays from the period were never printed at all, and the majority lost altogether. Even when a play such as Shakespeare’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’ was printed, this would not guarantee its survival.10
Being so large a field, Shakespeare studies has also been at the forefront of a number of developments in scholarship and critical methodologies. The pressure to say something new can be productive, leading to experimentation with form and content. In February, Cambridge University Press published La Trobe academic Rob Conkie’s book about Shakespeare in performance.11 Grappling with the difficulties of translating embodied experience of performance-based research into words on a printed page, Conkie experimented with modes of representation that would have been unthinkable to an older generation of scholars. One chapter of his academic monograph takes the form of a Sudoku puzzle, offering the reader a multiplicity of pathways through the grids of information presented on each page; another takes the form of a graphic novel, presenting a rich variety of perspectives from the performance process.
Cambridge University Press had also published Jeremy Lopez’ book on canon formation, which deployed a choose-your-own-adventure style of 61 mini-chapters that can be read in a variety of orders according to the reader’s whims.12 While I wouldn’t necessarily want either of these books to become the new ‘norm’ for academic writing, it’s seriously impressive that the world’s oldest publishing house is encouraging such creativity; I suspect it’s no coincidence that Shakespeare is the canonical vehicle that licenses this experimentation, just as the familiar stories from Shakespeare constituted the stable base that allowed Hollywood to develop cinematic capabilities with silent films, special effects and so on.
The year 2016 has also seen a more controversial development in Shakespeare criticism thanks to the always entertaining Holger Syme from the University of Toronto. The catalyst may have been the poor decision—by Harvard University Press or by the author?—to include Brian Vickers’ knighthood prominently on the titlepage of his latest book, The One King Lear. As Jonathan Bate, another critic knighted for services to literary scholarship, noted, ‘Many historians and a handful of literary scholars have been knighted for their work but, as far as I am aware, Sir Brian is the only one to parade his knighthood on his title page instead of confining it to its due place in the blurb.’13 Vickers’ book wades into a long-standing scholarly discussion about the relationship between the two early versions of Shakespeare’s King Lear (the quarto text of 1608 and the folio text of 1623, which contain significant differences). At a conservative stretch, one might describe his tone and manner as polemical. Critics have taken issue with the book’s argument and its handling of evidence and scholarship. In early May, Syme began tweeting his disappointment with the quality of the book’s scholarship, then began tweeting his reading of the entire book, producing hundreds and hundreds of 140-character observations and responses.14 The Times Higher Education declared that literary criticism had ‘been taken to a new level’ by Syme;15 the Guardian described it as a ‘500-tweet hatchet job’.16
Both Vickers and Syme have bold personalities, but what’s interesting here is not the clash of positions so much as the implicit debate about changing modes of critique. Twitter, unlike Facebook, does not purport to be a private medium; its users know that anything they tweet is fair game for the media to quote and has legal implications that differ from those associated with a Facebook post restricted to friends. Syme’s live broadcasting of his first impressions of Vickers’ book was always a public event, but Vickers—not having a Twitter account of his own and evidently not following developments on Twitter as a non-registered user—did not seem to register this fact. After the story broke, Vickers contacted Syme to ask for a copy of all the tweets, rather than simply looking them up himself. (Tellingly, he also omitted to look up who Syme was, referring dismissively to ‘whatever [Syme’s] academic position’ happened to be.)17 Much of Syme’s tweet marathon was written in exasperation, its tone (appropriately for the social media context) a mixture of the highly personal but also a devastating scholarly demolition job backed up by selections of primary evidence. So on the one hand, we have sarcastic tweets such as ‘I thought I’d be in a permanent state of anger reading this book. So far, it’s a steady state of boredom with spikes of rage’ and ‘It’s very hard to read this argument and NOT conclude that Sir doesn’t know how printing works. I’m trying, but it’s hard’,18 and on the other hand astute correctives including illustration of the differences between seriatim printing and setting text by forme; and photographic evidence of lines from plays that could have been shortened by the printer (yet weren’t) if Vickers’ hypothesis were correct.19
The abrasive tone and sheer mass of spontaneous comments drew the ire of Vickers, who thinks Syme ‘trivialises literary criticism, reducing it to attention-catching soundbites’.20 Another Shakespeare scholar, Gabriel Egan, also baulked at the medium, proclaiming in the Comments section of the Times Higher Education: ‘Twitter is inherently a non-reflective, off-the-cuff medium for sound-bite anti-intellectualism.’21 I don’t think live-tweeting book reviews should become the new norm, but I also don’t regard it as an inherently invalid means of critique. As Syme later admitted in response to Egan, after tweeting his responses to the Preface, he read subsequent chapters in their entirety before going back and tweeting his concerns. Vickers, Egan and others insist that Syme should have finished the entire book before pronouncing judgement, but faulty premises and misconstrued evidence can and should be called for what they are; and in Syme’s case, countered with evidence to illustrate the inaccuracies.
I don’t see why this needs to be deferred if a means such as Twitter is available for direct engagement. Context is key, and no user of Twitter would assume that a purportedly instantaneous response is akin to a refined and formal review; that doesn’t mean, though, that Syme’s responses should be dismissed. Vickers’ retort avoided acknowledgement of the numerous factual and logical errors Syme had identified, and instead merely offered the assertion ‘that he had “lived” with Lear for more than 50 years and that it took him three years to write the book, which has been anonymously peer reviewed twice by scholars’.22
There have been important changes in the focus, not just communication, of Shakespeare studies too though. A glance at the 2017 program for the Shakespeare Associa-tion of America’s annual convention demonstrates the diversity of new approaches to Shakespeare, his works being not only a breeding ground for literary criticism and theatre studies but also much broader modes of enquiry. Seminars ask: ‘[w]hat do Shakespeare’s representations of affliction, disability, or dependence tell us about the nature of human experience?’; analyse historical representations of ‘gender-variant bodies, characters, [and] cultural types’; examine ‘[w]hat can be gained by exploring the physical attributes of a textual object through a digital interface’; and consider ‘the vital role of Shakespeare in Black America’.23 They advance the new field of ‘geek studies’, seek to revitalise historicist approaches to literature, apply ecological readings to the ‘physical environments, living and non-living’ of the home, and encourage interdisciplinary work with the ‘medical humanities’, digital humanities and contemporary studies of cognition. The foundation work for landmark new critical editions of works by Shakespeare and by John Marston is also being tested out.
As even this brief survey attests, the study of Shakespeare has implications beyond the classroom in which the works are read, performed and watched, despite the fact that none of these are vocationally oriented topics. Not everything has to have direct vocational application; it is possible that value can reside elsewhere. Shouldn’t we stimulate students’ minds with ideas that are fascinating in and of themselves? As Shelley put it in his ‘Defence of Poetry’ (1821), the legacy of Enlightenment thinkers and the Age of Reason is significant, ‘[y]et it is easy to calculate the degree of moral and intellectual improvement which the world would have exhibited, had they never lived’:
A little more nonsense would have been talked for a century or two; and perhaps a few more men, women, and children, burnt as heretics … But it exceeds all imagination to conceive what would have been the moral condition of the world if neither Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Calderon, Lord Bacon, nor Milton, had ever existed …24
Shakespeare doesn’t have to be instrumentalised to ensure his continued relevance: his place at the heart of any English program worth its salt has little if anything to do with consulting him as an oracle to solve practical problems. Indeed, if his worth could be measured by quantifiable outcomes (the number of plays he wrote; the number of words he supposedly invented), his achievements would have been surpassed by now and his contributions to society forgotten. If we focus exclusively on ends, and instrumentalise our education to prioritise vocational outcomes, we risk missing out on the skills and pleasures gained through grappling with the means. The process of working through the evidence, suppressed premises, hidden agendas, rhetorical devices and leaps of faith that comprise the journey of discovery is an essential aspect of learning and self-improvement.
‘But why, why, why?’ (Antony and Cleopatra, 3.7)
So why is Shakespeare still relevant in 2016? Shakespeare’s work, like the study of literature or theatre more generally (though perhaps to an exceptional degree, on account of his genius), offers an opportunity to think through our constructions of the world, our attitudes to and understanding of cultural debates.
In his first season at the helm of the Bell Shakespeare company, new artistic director Peter Evans chose to stage Othello, starring Ray Chong Nee and Yalin Ozucelik as Othello and Iago respectively, and Elizabeth Nabben as Desdemona. The depiction of race in this play has the potential to be problematic in contemporary performance: Shakespeare’s Othello, Richard Burbage (the leading actor of the King’s Men), would have played the part in blackface, in a theatrical context that was predicated on representation not mimesis (boy actors, after all, played the female roles in this exclusively white, transvestite theatre). Blackface now carries a set of painful connotations that the actors of Shakespeare’s day could not have foreseen, and is clearly not a viable option any more. To recall that Burbage applied cosmetics to his body to simulate blackness, to perform and construct racial alterity—not embody it or present it—is helpful, however, for understanding what Shakespeare was doing in Othello. Shakespeare’s play isn’t a presentation of black and white: it’s a representation of constructions of and attitudes towards black and white.
One reviewer of the Bell production implied that misdirecting or miscasting had produced an ‘opportunity fail’ because Chong Nee’s ‘handsome’ and ‘faithful’ Othello is ‘not a threat to Venetians, he’s the epitome of all that they stand for’25—but of course Othello, despite being ‘an extravagant and wheeling stranger, / Of here and everywhere’ (1.1.135–6), has to be fully assimilated into Venetian society at the start of the play. The racial anxieties of the play are predicated precisely on the Venetians’ inability successfully to demarcate the boundaries between Self and Other. What is to be made of a noble Moor leading a Christian army for Venice against the Turks? This isn’t an Edward Said–style Orientalist binary in which black Othello can simply be rejected by Venice: it’s a more complicated attraction–repulsion dynamic, described by Daniel Vitkus as ‘a process of engagement with multiple “others” that precede and possess any given culture’.26 Hence although the body may seem a site of physical difference, Othello delves deeper, exploring the linguistic ability to construct identity—for the subject to self-fashion, and to be fashioned (in this case by his enemies).27 Despite the humility topos of characterising himself as being ‘[r]ude … in my speech’ (1.3.82), Othello is demonstrably eloquent in Act 1 of the play, constructing his own identity linguistically as a civilised, intelligent and brave servant of the Venetian state. It is the very power of his rhetoric that leads to accusations of witchcraft, of having enchanted Desdemona’s greedy ear.
It is only fitting, then, that his downfall is expressed in the breakdown of language—in the moment the reviewer describes as the ‘gravest fault of this production—a bewildering lapse of judgment’—when ‘[Bell Shakespeare director Peter] Evans asks a person of colour to perform like a monkey’. This is the moment in the fourth Act when Othello succumbs to an epileptic fit provoked by Iago’s ‘medicine’ (his baiting with rumour and innuendo). Othello’s bravura rhetorical display is matched by Iago’s ingenious scheming, his pestiferous whisperings in Othello’s ear, which poison Othello’s mind against Desdemona. Representing the degeneration from his former greatness to his animalistic incoherence is essential to the tragic fall. Othello, we think, was probably the next tragedy Shakespeare wrote after Hamlet; the metaphor of the poisoned ear appears important to both. This is pointedly a kind of savage madness, in which Othello loses his tragic subjectivity because he loses his control of language: he becomes barbaric, in Aristotle’s terms (barbarians being non-Greeks; those who spoke bar-bar or babbled inchoately).
Meanwhile the other characters ramp up the (what we would now describe as) racist discourse, not only in the ever-present use of ‘black’ as a loaded term (connoting the demonic, evil Other) but also in Emilia’s exclamation, ‘The Moor hath killed my mistress!’ (5.2.163), Othello is no longer a person, or member of society; he is stripped of individuation and becomes just a Moor. Again, we see racial identity constructed linguistically: saying is doing, stating difference enforces it, almost as a performative speech act. Identity, as explored in Shakespeare’s play, is rarely if ever innate, but is performed. We do not need to ‘[dial] up the contrast, [make] Othello a killer soldier, or more alien, or menacing and lascivious’ in order to ‘[confront] our own prejudices head-on’.28 We need to understand the politics of representation, the process by which identity of the Other is constructed by the Self, if we are to understand how Pauline Hanson’s ideologies have garnered sufficient traction to see her elected to the Senate. We cannot assess what Coleridge called the ‘motiveless malignity’ of Iago, and we cannot truly understand Othello psychologically either, because unlike Hamlet, Othello does not offer psychological insight: plots, not characters, motivate the action of what is essentially a comedy gone wrong.
As an outsider in Venice, Othello has to trust someone, but he makes the mistake of trusting his ensign (Iago) instead of his wife. Despite his military prowess and demonstrable nobility and grace, we do not entirely like Othello, and it is a mistaken criticism that assumes his murder of Desdemona is somehow condoned by the play. We know that Shakespeare was at pains to craft the final murder scene; he deviated from his principle source (Cinthio’s Gli Hecatommithi, 1565) to augment the killing of Desdemona, whose role he had drastically enlarged, through details found in Geoffrey Fenton’s Certaine Tragicall Discourses (1567). It worked. When Henry Jackson saw Shakespeare’s company perform the play in Oxford in September 1610, it was this final tableau that haunted him: ‘But that Desdemona, murdered by her husband in our presence, although she always pled her case excellently, yet when killed moved us more, while stretched out on her bed she begged the spectators’ pity with her very facial expression.’29
The Bell Shakespeare production was criticised because ‘the domestic violence angle—that loving ‘not wisely but too well’ is a reasonable excuse for a man to murder his wife—hangs uninterrogated’, but the final tableau is not meant to convey neat closure of the variety required by Shakespearean comedy (‘Jack shall have Jill, nought shall go ill’). Othello pushes beyond the comic structure of its first Act to address—but not resolve—disturbing cultural threats pertaining to racial identity. The play explores the tension between a subject who self-fashions through mastery of discourse and the racist discourses that come to fashion him. Performances won’t interrogate assumptions for audiences: that is the audience’s task, and the student who has the opportunity to study Shakespeare’s writing on page or stage has the opportunity to enhance their critical thinking skills through some of the most complicated and affective works ever produced.
- BBC News Online, 30 June 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36671336>.
- Quoted in Mark Brown, ‘Ralph Fiennes: Michael Gove is just like Richard III’, Guardian, 20 July 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jul/19/ralph-fiennes-michael-gove-is-just-like-richard-iii?
- Sam Freedman, 26 June 2016, <https://twitter.com/Samfr/status/746945646385577984>.
- Ben McIntyre, The Times, 22 April 2016, <http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/is-it-nobler-in-the-mind-
- Terry Hawkes, ‘“Love” in King Lear’, Review of English Studies 10 (1958), pp. 178–81.
- Museum of London Archaeology blog, ‘Initial findings from excavation at Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre revealed’, 17 May 2016, <http://www.mola.org.uk/blog/initial-findings-excavation-shakespeare
- Holger Syme, ‘Post-Curtain Theatre History’, dispositio, 18 May 2016, <http://www.dispositio.net/archives/2262>.
- ‘Handwriting expert makes new Shakespeare discoveries’, Wall Street Journal, 9 March 2016, <http://www.wsj.com/articles/handwriting-expert-makes-new-shakespeare-discoveries-1457550374>.
- Jennifer Schluessler, ‘Shakespeare: Actor. Playwright. Social climber’, New York Times, 29 June 2016, <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/30/theater/shakespeare-coat-of-arms.html >.
- ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’, Lost Plays Database, <https://www.lostplays.org/lpd/Love’s_Labour’s_Won>.
- Rob Conkie, Writing Performative Shakespeares: New Forms for Performance Criticism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016.
- Jeremy Lopez, Constructing the Canon of Early Modern Drama, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014.
- Jonathan Bate, ‘Sneers and jeers over Lears’, Spectator, 28 May 2016, <http://www.spectator.co.uk/
- The entire sequence has been Storified and is available via Syme’s blog, <http://www.dispositio.net/archives/2275>.
- Matthew Reisz, ‘Shakespeare scholar vents 500-tweet “bitterly sarcastic” attack on book’, Times Higher Education, 6 June 2016, <https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/shakespeare-scholar-vents-500-
- Alison Flood, ‘Academic performs 500-tweet hatchet job on new study of Shakespeare’, Guardian, 9 June 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/08/academic-performs-500-tweet-hatchet-job-
- Quoted in the Guardian, 9 June 2016.
- Holger Syme, tweets: 12 May 2016, <https://twitter.com/literasyme/status/730639619776253953>, <https://twitter.com/literasyme/status/730630583102148608>; 13 May 2016, <https://twitter.com/literasyme/status/731010362376650752>.
- Holger Syme, tweets: 13 May 2016, <https://twitter.com/literasyme/status/731009269898870784>, <https://twitter.com/literasyme/status/731006431529455616>.
- Brian Vickers, quoted in the Guardian, 9 June 2016.
- Gabriel Egan, quoted in Times Higher Education, 6 June 2016.
- Guardian, 9 June 2016.
- Shakespeare Association of America, June 2016 Bulletin, <http://www.shakespeareassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/June-2016-Bulletin-.pdf>.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘A Defence of Poetry’, Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th edition, Volume 2, W.W. Norton, New York, 2000, p. 797.
- Chris Boyd, ‘Plug should be pulled on Bell Shakespeare Company’s Othello’, Australian, 18 July 2016, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/stage/plug-should-be-pulled…are-companys-othello/news-story/51d9b62bac5dc6f1ddb7ab5e491a3525>.
- Daniel Vitkus, Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570–1630, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2003, p. 12.
- On the concept of self-fashioning, see Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1980.
- Boyd, ‘Plug should be pulled’.
- Henry Jackson, ‘Letter of September 1610’, trans. Dana F. Sutton, Philological Museum (website), <http://www.philological.bham.ac.uk/jackson/text.html>.