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Phenomenal Shakespeare

ISBN: 978-0-631-23548-4
232 pages
January 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Phenomenal Shakespeare (0631235485) cover image


In Phenomenal Shakespeare, leading Shakespeare scholar Bruce R. Smith presents an original account for the ways in which Shakespeare’s poems and plays continue to resonate with audiences, readers and scholars because of their engagement with the whole body, not just the reading mind. 
  • An original examination of Shakespeare’s appeal written by leading Shakespeare scholar Bruce R. Smith
  • Contains insightful examinations of a single Shakespeare sonnet, Venus and Adonis, and King Lear to model the possibilities of historical phenomenology as a better strategy for critical reading than approaches based on language alone
  • Pushes beyond traditional treatments of Shakespeare
  • An ideal handbook of contemporary approaches to Shakespeare and a celebration of Shakespeare's staying power on stage, on film, and on the page
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Table of Contents


Prologue: The Argument.

1. As It Likes You.

2. How Should One Read a Shakespeare Sonnet?.

3. Carnal Knowledge.

4. Touching Moments.

Epilogue: What Shakespeare Proves.

Works Cited.

Picture Credits.


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Author Information

Bruce R. Smith is Dean's Professor of English and Professor of Theatre at the University of Southern California. He has published widely on Shakespeare with recent works including The Key of Green: Passion and Perception in Renaissance Culture (2009), Shakespeare and Masculinity (2000), and The Acoustic World of Early Modern England (1999). A former president of the Shakespeare Association of America, Smith has been a keynote speaker at meetings of Shakespeare and Renaissance organizations in Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Portugal, and the UK. He has also been featured in programs aired on BBC Radio 3, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Public Radio International, and TV 4 London.
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"I cannot recommend Bruce Smith's book highly enough to any researcher interested in deepening their understanding of historical phenomenology. The first chapter on As You Like It manifests-through an analysis of the modern use of the quotative ""like"" and three contrasting portraits of Bacon, Descartes and Husserl in their private studies of phenomena-the central goals and underpinnings of this theoretical approach." (Routledge ABES, 2011)


"A welcome introduction to what is proving an exciting set of radically new approaches for making sense of the early modern period […] what is really groundbreaking about Smith’s work here is how it demands that we as scholars re-address what it is that we think we are doing when we read these texts."
—William N. West, Northwestern University

"A timely and unique contribution that urges the reorientation of critical attitudes from the "state the theory, show the theory, restate the theory" approach towards a method of manifesting or showing".
—P.A. Skantze, Roehampton University

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