Religion Around Shakespeare

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9780271061818: Religion Around Shakespeare

For years scholars and others have been trying to out Shakespeare as an ardent Calvinist, a crypto-Catholic, a Puritan-baiter, a secularist, or a devotee of some hybrid faith. In Religion Around Shakespeare, Peter Kaufman sets aside such speculation in favor of considering the historical and religious context surrounding his work. Employing extensive archival research, he aims to assist literary historians who probe the religious discourses, characters, and events that seem to have found places in Shakespeare’s plays and to aid general readers or playgoers developing an interest in the plays’ and playwright’s religious contexts: Catholic, conformist, and reformist. Kaufman argues that sermons preached around Shakespeare and conflicts that left their marks on literature, law, municipal chronicles, and vestry minutes enlivened the world in which (and with which) he worked and can enrich our understanding of the playwright and his plays.

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About the Author:

Peter Iver Kaufman is Modlin Professor at the University of Richmond and Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Review:

“An urgently needed book. It is one of those rare studies written by an expert who presents a comprehensive overview and detailed analysis through nimble prose and dry humor.”

—Kristen Poole, Shakespeare Quarterly



“This volume is a useful addition to the literature on the ‘turn to religion’ in early modern studies by such scholars as Alison Shell, Debora Shuger, and Jean-Christopher Mayer.”

—C. Baker, Choice



“Kaufman’s book is successful in its aims, and they are important ones; by it, not only will Shakespeare’s culture become more comprehensible for general readers, but also Shakespeare scholars and those studying other aspects of Renaissance English life will come away with a sharper, more accurate conception of the period’s maelstrom of religious influences and, I cannot but think, with a healthy reluctance to indulge in oversimplification about it. . . . I heartily recommend this book to specialists and nonspecialists alike.”

—John E. Curran Jr., Renaissance Quarterly



“Peter Iver Kaufman examines in impressive detail the religious soil in which Shakespeare’s plays flourished. By offering an expert survey of an immensely complex terrain, this book will serve those who want to scrutinize the religious discourses embedded in the plays. This book is significant, then, for Shakespearean scholars, for scholars of early modern English non-Shakespearean drama, and for historians of the English Reformation. Its originality derives from the author’s command of his special subject: no other historian of religion has examined early modern English religion with as scrupulous and searching an eye to its potential Shakespearean connections. The value of the book lies in its extended examination of the religious pastures, seemingly outside the plays’ boundaries, into which the plays occasionally wander. It’s difficult to think of any recent book to which Kaufman’s can be accurately or extensively compared, an originality that will be its chief source of value for literary scholars. They will deeply profit from what this distinguished historian of religion has provided.”

—Richard Mallette, Lake Forest College

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