Karen Newman


On her book Essaying Shakespeare

Cover Interview of August 23, 2009

In a nutshell

Essaying Shakespeare, as its title suggests, is a collection of essays about Shakespeare.

To” essay” means both to try or attempt, and to put to the test.  Written and published over the past 25 years, during an intensely productive period for Shakespeare studies, these essays “try” or “test” major approaches to Shakespeare and literary studies more generally.

Psychoanalysis, new historicism, gender studies, post-structuralism, cultural studies, critical race theory, the history of sexuality, English nationalism and colonial expansion, visual culture, print culture, and the appropriation of and globalization of Shakespeare all echo through the volume.  Not only do the essays collected here illustrate recent topics and critical approaches, they are also in conversation with the work of many scholars writing on Shakespeare.  And they also engage major thinkers of the twentieth century including Adorno, Derrida, Foucault, Freud, and Marx, among others.

My work is concerned particularly with social exchange and the circulation of people and objects in the Renaissance, which has recently come to be called the “early modern period.”  In short, Essaying Shakespeare provides an overview of recent work on perhaps the most famous of world writers and signals directions for the future of Shakespeare scholarship and performance.