Shakespearean Intersections Language, Contexts, Critical Keywords


What does the keyword "continence" in Love's Labor's Lost reveal about geopolitical boundaries and their breaching? What can we learn from the contemporary identification of the "quince" with weddings that is crucial for A Midsummer Night's Dream? How does the evocation of Spanish-occupied "Brabant" in Othello resonate with contemporary geopolitical contexts, wordplay on "Low Countries," and fears of sexual/territorial "occupation"? How does "supposes" connote not only sexual submission in The Taming of the Shrew but also the transvestite practice of boys playing women, and what does it mean for the dramatic recognition scene in Cymbeline?

With dazzling wit and erudition, Patricia Parker explores these and other critical keywords to reveal how they provide a lens for interpreting the language, contexts, and preoccupations of Shakespeare's plays. In doing so, she probes classical and historical sources, theatrical performance practices, geopolitical interrelations, hierarchies of race, gender, and class, and the multiple significances of "preposterousness," including reversals of high and low, male and female, Latinate and vulgar, "sinister" or backward writing, and latter ends both bodily and dramatic.

Providing innovative and interdisciplinary perspectives on Shakespeare, from early to late and across dramatic genres, Parker's deeply evocative readings demonstrate how easy-to-overlook textual or semantic details reverberate within and beyond the Shakespearean text, and suggest that the boundary between language and context is an incontinent divide.


About the Author

Patricia Parker received her M.A. in English at the University of Toronto and taught for three years in Tanzania, whose President Julius Nyerere also translated Shakespeare into Kiswahili. After teaching at the University of East Africa, she completed her Ph.D. at Yale, in Comparative Literature, and taught for 11 years at the University of Toronto. First invited to Stanford as a Visiting Professor in 1986, she came to Stanford permanently in 1988 as a Professor in both English and Comparative Literature. She has also taught as a Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley and as a member of the core faculty at the School of Criticism and Theory (Cornell University, 1998). She is the author of four books (Inescapable Romance, a study of romance from Ariosto to Wallace Stevens; Literary Fat Ladies: Rhetoric, Gender, Property; Shakespeare from the Margins; and Shakespearean Intersections) and co-editor of five collections of essays on criticism, theory, and cultural studies, including Shakespeare and the Question of Theory and Women, Race and Writing in the Early Modern Period. She has lectured widely in France, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and other parts of the world, as well as at Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Chicago, Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne, and other universities; as Gauss Seminar lecturer at Princeton, Shakespeare's Birthday lecturer at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Northrop Frye Professor lecturer at the University of Toronto, and Paul Gottschalk lecturer at Cornell University; and has served on the Advisory Board of the English Institute. In 2003-4, she organized an international conference and public festival at Stanford devoted to “Shakespeare in Asia.” She has also worked with students to create performance-based programs in the community. She currently teaches courses on Shakespeare (including Global Shakespeares), the Bible and Literature, Epic and Empire and other topics. In addition to books-in-progress on Shakespeare, rhetoric, race, and gender, she is the General Editor of the Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia, which will be released online as a global reference work free to anyone in the world with access to the internet.