The most familiar assertion of Shakespeare scholarship is that he is our contemporary. "Shakespeare After Theory" provocatively argues that he is not, but what value he has for us must at least begin with a recognition of his distance from us. Only then can we be sure that what we hear are his concerns, rather than the projections of our own.
"Shakespeare After Theory" sees Shakespeare's artistry as it is realized in the earliest conditions of its materialization and intelligibility: in the collaborations of the theatre in which the plays were acted, in the practices of the book trade in which they were published, in the unstable political world of late Tudor and Stuart England in which the plays were engaged by various publics. Responding to the theoretical initiatives of the last twenty years that have insisted that literary meaning and value are always contingent and contestable, but arguing that the necessary rejoinder to theory's provocation is to recognize the radical historicity of literature itself, this book compellingly restores Shakespeare's plays to the rich densities of the world in which and to which they are alive.
"This volume deserves to be placed at the forefront of some of the most promising developments in today's Shakespeare scholarship and criticism."
-Modern Language Quarterly
"Kastan's study provides welcome new direction for Shakespearean study at a time when scholarly discussions have begun to stagnate.this timely study should offer new and stimulating directions for what my well be the next phase of Shakespearean scholarship."
..." most readers will be grateful for his salutary insistence on and contributions to historical particularity, as well as his judicious criticism of "totalizing" methods."
"Kastan's ability to frame theoretical issues memorably is, in fact, a distinguishing mark of Shakespeare After Theory."
-Journal of English and Germanic Philology
"Kastan's book demonstrates wide reading in history as well as literature, much of it current and carefully documented. Recommended to upper-division undergraduates through faculty for the clarity of its presentation and the breadth of its scholarship.."
-" Choice, June 2000