Series: Oxford Shakespeare Topics
192 pages, 8 b/w photos
Shakespeare and Ecology is the first book to explore the topical contexts that shaped the environmental knowledge and politics of Shakespeare and his audiences. Early modern England experienced unprecedented environmental challenges including climate change, population growth, resource shortfalls, and habitat destruction which anticipate today's globally magnified crises. Shakespeare wove these events into the poetic textures and embodied action of his drama, contributing to the formation of a public ecological consciousness, while opening creative pathways for re-imagining future human relationships with the natural world and non-human life.
Shakespeare and Ecology begins with an overview of ecological modernity across Shakespeare's work before focusing on three major environmental controversies in particular plays: deforestation in The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Tempest; profit-driven agriculture in As You Like It; and gunpowder warfare and remedial cultivation in Henry IV Parts One and Two, Henry V, and Macbeth. A fourth chapter examines the interdependency of local and global eco-relations in Cymbeline, and the final chapter explores Darwinian micro-ecologies in Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra. An epilogue suggests that Shakespeare's greatest potential for mobilizing modern ecological ideas and practices lies in contemporary performance.
Shakespeare and Ecology illuminates the historical antecedents of modern ecological knowledge and activism, and explores Shakespeare's capacity for generating imaginative and performative responses to today's environmental challenges.
Ecological Modernity in Shakespeare: an overview
1. Localism, Deforestation, and Environmental Activism in The Merry Wives of Windsor
2. Land-uses and Convertible Husbandry in As You Like It
3. Gunpowder, Militarization, and Threshold Ecologies in Henry IV Part Two and Macbeth
4. Biospheric Ecologies in Cymbeline
5. Evolutionary Ecology in Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra
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Randall Martin holds degrees from Toronto, Birmingham, and Oxford. He is the author of Women, Murder, and Equity in Early Modern England (2007), and he has edited Every Man Out of His Humour for The Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson (2012) and Henry VI Part Three for the Oxford Shakespeare (2001). He has also recently co-edited Shakespeare/Adaptation/Modern Drama with Katherine Scheil (2011).