Gavin Hollis reviews Shakespearean Territories in Renaissance Quarterly (open access)

Gavin Hollis generously reviews my 2018 book Shakespearean Territories in Renaissance Quarterly (open access).

The work of the prolific political theorist and geographer Stuart Elden merits further engagement by literary historians of early modernity, in particular anyone interested in matters of geography and hydrography, space, place, nation, empire, mapping, policing, and resistance. Which is quite a lot of us. Shakespearean Territories is Elden’s third book-length exploration of territory as a key term for interrogating the long histories of biological and geopolitical convergences—or what Elden calls “the spatial extent of sovereignty.” Territory, he argues, is not mere political background, nor should we understand it simply as the site or product of inter- and intra-national contestations—as the place where de-territorialization and re-territorialization happen. Rather, argues Elden, territory is a process that is continually negotiated through a range of historically contingent practices and techniques designed to measure, manage, and master land. The first book in his unofficial trilogy, Terror and Territory (2009), is focused on the post–Cold War period, in particular the War on Terror, while the second, The Birth of Territory(2013), takes a longer view, tracing back to classical antiquity the emergence of territory as a contested geopolitical/biopolitical category. As its title suggests, the focus of Shakespearean Territories is narrower, but in its unraveling of the many ways in which territory is envisaged in Shakespeare’s work it is as conceptually capacious as the earlier books. [continues here]

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