While in Nigeria I was working on a book proposal for the Shakespearean Territories project, interspersed with re-reading some of the plays that were on my potential list to be included. It’s now looking something like this:
- Divided Territories: The Geo-politics of King Lear
- Corporeal Territories: The Political Bodies of Coriolanus
- Economic Territories: Farming the Realm in Richard II
- Contested Territories: Placing the Histories
- Colonial Territories: Pericles and The Tempest
- Vulnerable Territories: External Powers in Hamlet and Macbeth
- Measuring Territories: The Techniques of Rule
- Outside Territory: The Forest in As You Like It and Titus Andronicus
Chapters 1, 2, and parts of 3 exist in draft form already, and I’ve given them as talks in New York, Paris, Nottingham and Edinburgh. I have bits towards chapters 5 and 8 and lots of notes. My aim is to have a proposal ready to send to a publisher sometime this summer, with a manuscript by end of 2013. I’m looking at a fairly short book of c. 80,000 words inclusive.
The basic argument is that while Shakespeare only uses the words ‘territory’ and ‘territories’ rarely, the concept is not marginal to his work. A number of his plays are structured around related issues of exile, banishment, land politics, spatial division, contestation, conquest and succession. Shakespeare was writing at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century: a time when the modern conception of sovereign territory was emerging. He therefore helps us understand its variant aspects, tensions, ambiguities and limits. The plays are chosen because they help to exemplify different aspects of the question of territory – conceptually, historically, and politically. In doing so I hope to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of territory as word, concept and practice, and to shed light on the way we understand territory and territorial disputes today.