I have a short piece at the Progress in Political Economy blog entitled ‘Shakespeare, Richard II and the Political Economy of Territory‘. Thanks to Adam David Morton for the invitation to contribute.
Shakespeare has long been seen as a writer with something to say about the economic. Karl Marx famously uses Timon of Athens to discuss the “power of money” in his 1844 Manuscripts and Capital Volume I. There are crucial economic questions in The Merchant of Venice, not only in the character of the money-lender Shylock, but also the failure of the overseas trading which means that Antonio cannot repay the debt. There are many more readings of Shakespeare’s plays through an economic lens. If the North American school of new historicism owed much to Michel Foucault, the British cultural materialists drew more explicitly on the work of Marx and some of his commentators, notably Raymond Williams. Others have seen the wider shifts of economic systems at work in his history plays – journalist and broadcaster Paul Mason for example wrote a piece in 2014 entitled ‘What Shakespeare taught me about Marxism’.