What begun as a distraction, and became an obsession, is now looking increasingly like a book project. As regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve been reading and thinking about Shakespeare for a while now. My thinking at the moment is that I will develop some of this and much else into a book with the working title of Shakespearean Territories.
There is a discussion of King Lear in the manuscript of The Birth of Territory, but a longer paper was written and was presented for the first time at the Anachronic Shakespeare conference (links to audio of the talk, discussion, and slides). It is forthcoming in Law and Literature. I also have the draft of a paper on Coriolanus (along with the short piece on the recent film) and I have a growing amount of notes and ideas beyond that.
The idea is to use focused readings of a number of plays to illustrate different aspects of the question of territory. So the question of division and the political economy of land is done through King Lear; corporeal territories through Coriolanus; administration of territories maybe through Measure for Measure; conquest through Henry V; succession through the history plays, perhaps Hamlet and certainly Macbeth; contest through Titus Andronicus or Richard III; colonial territories through The Tempest and/or Pericles; maybe enclosure through As You Like It; definitely banishment through Richard II (although there are many others, and Richard II is fascinating for other reasons concerning land too)… The exact makeup is still uncertain, and there is a lot to do, but this is the rough plan.
While the focus on territory specifically is, I think, a potentially novel contribution, there are other works that look at Shakespeare, geography and/or politics. A book I mentioned recently, Steve Mentz’s At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean takes a similar approach to the question of the sea, and there are other, related, examples: Julia Reinhard Lupton’s seminar on Shakespeare/Dwelling and her Thinking with Shakespeare and Citizen Saints; Jean Addison Roberts, The Shakespearean Wild: Geography, Genus, and Gender; Anselm Haverkamp, Shakespearean Genealogies of Power; part III of Simon Barker, War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries… John Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference, takes a somewhat different approach.
The idea is that it is both a book about Shakespeare and a book about territory, which might appeal to geographers, political theorists and international relations scholars as much as people who are interested in Shakespeare himself. It may also introduce questions about territory to a wider audience. I’ll be talking about this project to a politics/IR audience in October, and intend to talk a bit about the question of banishment, or what it means to be outside territory, at a conference in May.
I’m sure I’ll post more about it here…