• Listen to an interview with Madhavi Menon on WAMU-FM's "Metro Connection"

  • Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction. Queer Shakes / Madhavi Menon 1

    All is True (Henry VIII)
    The Unbearable Sex of Henry VIII / Steven Bruhm 28

    All's Well That Ends Well
    Is Marriage Always Already Heterosexual? / Julie Crawford 39

    Antony and Cleopatra
    Aught an Eunuch Has / Ellis Hanson 48

    As You Like It
    Fortune's Turn / Valerie Rohy 55

    Cardenio
    "Absonant Desire": The Question of Cardenio / Philip Lorenz 62

    The Comedy of Errors
    In Praise of Error / Lynne Huffer 72

    Coriolanus
    "Tell Me Not Wherein I Seem Unnatural": Queer Meditations on Coriolanus in the Time of War / Jason Edwards 80

    Cymbeline
    desire vomit emptiness: Cymbeline's Marriage Time / Amanda Berry 89

    Hamlet
    Hamlet's Wounded Name / Lee Edelman 97

    Henry IV, Part 1
    When Harry Met Harry / Matt Bell 106

    Henry IV, Part 2
    The Deep Structure of Sexuality: War and Masochism in Henry IV, Part 2 / Daniel Juan Gil 114

    King Henry V
    Scrambling Harry and Sampling Hal / Drew Daniel 121

    Henry VI, Part 1
    "Wounded Alpha Bad Boy Soldier" / Mario Digangi 130

    Henry VI, Part 2
    The Gayest Play Ever / Stephen Guy-Bray 139

    Henry VI, Part 3
    Stay / Cary Howie 146

    Julius Caeser
    Thus, Always: Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln / Bethany Schneider 152

    King John
    Queer Futility: Or, The Life and Death of King John / Kathryn Schwarz 163

    King Lear
    Lear's Queer Cosmos / Laurie Shannon 171

    A Lover's Complaint
    Learning How to Love (Again) / Ashley T. Shelden 179

    Love's Labour's Lost
    The L Words / Madhavi Menon 187

    Love's Labour's Won
    Doctorin' the Bard: A Contemporary Appropriation of Love's Labour's Won / Hector Kollias 194

    Macbeth
    Milk / Heather Love 201

    Measure for Measure
    Same-Saint Desire / Paul Morrison 209

    The Merchant of Venice
    The Rites of Queer Marriage in The Merchant of Venice / Arthur L. Little Jr. 216

    The Merry Wives of Windsor
    What Do Women Want? / Jonathan Goldberg 225

    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    Shakespeare's Ass Play / Richard Rambuss 234

    Much Ado About Nothing
    Closing Ranks, Keeping Company: Marriage Plots and the Will to be Single in Much Ado About Nothing / Ann Pellegrini 245

    Othello
    Othello's Penis: Or, Islam in the Closet / Daniel Boyarin 254

    Pericles
    "Curious Pleasures": Pericles beyond the Civility of Union / Patrick O'Malley 263

    The Phoenix and the Turtle
    Number There in Love Was Slain / Karl Steel 271

    The Rape of Lucree
    Desire My Pilot Is / Peter Coviello 278

    Richard II
    Pretty Richard / Judith Brown 286

    Richard III
    Fuck the Disabled: The Prequel / Robert McRuer 294

    Romeo and Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet Love Death / Carla Freccero 302

    Sir Thomas More
    More or Less Queer / Jeffrey Masten 309

    The Sonnets
    Momma's Boy / Aranye Fradenburg 319

    Speech Therapy / Barbara Johnson 328

    More Life: Shakespeare's Sonnet Machines / Julian Yates 333

    The Taming of the Shrew
    Latin Lovers in The Taming of the Shrew / Bruce Smith 343

    The Tempest
    Forgetting The Tempest / Kevin Ohi 351

    Timon of Athens
    Skepticism, Sovereignty, Sodomy / James Kuzner 361

    Titus Andronicus
    A Child's Garden of Atrocities / Michael Moon 369

    Troilus and Cressida
    The Leather Men and the Lovely Boy: Reading Positions in Troilus and Cressida / Alan Sinfeild 376

    Twelfth Night
    Is There an Audience for My Play? / Sharon Holland 385

    The Two Gentlemen of Verona
    Pageboy, or The Two Gentlemen of Verona: The Movie / Amy Villajero 394

    The Two Noble Kinsmen
    Philadelphia, or War / Jody Greene 404

    Venus and Adonis421
    Venus and Adonis Freeze / Andrew Nicholls 414

    The Winter's Tale
    Lost, or "Exit, Pursued by a Bear": Causing Queer Children on Shakespeare's TV / Kathryn Bond Stockton 421

    References 429

    Further Reading 449

    Contributors 467

    Index 477

  • Madhavi Menon

    Steven Bruhm

    Julie Crawford

    Ellis Hanson

    Valerie Rohy

    Philip Lorenz

    Lynne Huffer

    Jason Edwards

    Amanda Berry

    Lee Edelman

    Matt Bell

    Daniel Juan Gil

    Drew Daniel

    Mario DeGangi

    Stephen Guy-Bray

    Cary Howie

    Bethany Schneider

    Kathryn Schwarz

    Laurie Shannon

    Ashley T. Shelden

    Hector Kollias

    Heather K. Love

    Paul Morrison

    Arthur L. Little

    Jonathan Goldberg

    Richard Rambuss

    Ann Pellegrini

    Daniel Boyarin

    Patrick M. O′Malley

    Karl Steel

    Judith Brown

    Robert McRuer

    Freccero, Carla

    Jeffrey Masten

    Aranye Fradenburg

    Barbara Johnson

    Julian Yates

    Bruce R. Smith

    Kevin Ohi

    James Kuzner

    Michael Moon

    Alan Sinfield

    Sharon Patricia Holland

    Amy Villarejo

    Jody Greene

    Andrew Nicholls

    Kathryn Bond Stockton

    Peter Coviello

  • “[T]he only collection that engages the entirety of Shakespeare’s body of work with queer theory. It is a much-needed addition to both queer and Shakespearean scholarship, broadening and enriching both fields of study and loosening their constraints.”

    “In the end, this book is a big, glorious mess, full of playful juxtapositions and frightening possibilities. It is thrilling. Theatre scholars, queer theorists, actors, directors, and dramaturges will all find something useful and interesting.”

    “Take forty-eight smart and interesting thinkers working in the field of queer theory – some of them Shakespeareans and early modernists, some not – that is one for each of the forty-five works by Shakespeare, plus three for the Sonnets. Get them to write – more or less reluctantly – their observations on the individual work of William Shakespeare allocated to them. . . . Then, in a deliciously hip anachronistic move, apply the notion of queerness to Shakespeare’s opus in order to uphold the idea of its continuing relevance. By rearranging the pixels on the icon of Shakespeare, turn him into an altogether different, modern, fresh, re-thought kind of icon; yet an icon nevertheless. Or, as the Bard himself puts it: one must be cruel only to be kind.”

    “When studying endless Shakespeare plays on English Literature courses, we always had a hunch there were some exceptionally queer goings on beyond some same sex sonnets and this collection of essays proves us right. Earl on earl analysis sits beside complex queer theories on the bard.”

    “Few works of literary criticism deserve the descriptor ‘monumental,’ but this one does. . . . The book is both readable and witty. It is also important, for it drives the final nail into the coffin of 20th-century Shakespearean studies. . . . No hierarchies survive this book. Every play and poem receives a fresh new reading. . . . Essential. All readers.”

    “If you're looking for clues to Romeo and Mercutio's secret romance in the new academic volume Shakesqueer : A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, edited by Madhavi Menon (Duke), you're barking up the wrong yew tree. American University professor Menon and her queer-theorist contributors find queerness in Shakespeare in that term's most all-encompassing meaning of oddball, unusual, or non-normative. But when you come to think of it, fairy queen Titania falling in love with an ass named Bottom is pretty queer, in all senses of the word.”

    “It is rare to see a volume that does so much, and does it with such consistent wit, thoughtfulness, and creativity. . . . In putting together this volume, Menon has done scholars from all fields and periods an immense service. Shakesqueer gives us a very queer new reading ‘’companion’’ — friend, helpmeet, comrade-in-arms — that makes us exquisitely aware of the need for the perverse and disruptive critical practice its essays so pleasurably model.”

    “There’s something for every queer scholar and Bard-lover in the anthology; from bears in Henry VIII to eunuchs in Antony and Cleopatra, from the death drive in Hamlet to precariously heterosexual marriages in All’s Well that Ends Well, the contributing authors chart Shakespeare’s varied engagements with queerness, putting pressure on assumptions that Shakespeare has nothing to offer to contemporary queer theory. . . . The assorted essays assert that Shakespeare has as much to offer queer theory as queer theory can contribute to understanding and deconstructing the Bard’s texts. This book belongs on every bookish queer’s shelf, right where the leather-bound Complete Works of William Shakespeare butts up against Butler and Foucault.”

    “[Shakesqueer] manages to put the fun back into academic research. Shakesqueer is a highly entertaining collection of essays, which all focus on the strange, the unusual, that is, the queer element in the Shakespearean oeuvre.”

    “This balance of well-known and newer voices, taken alongside the predominance of non-Shakespearean queer scholars writing about Shakespeare’s works, results in a collection that will appeal to readers interested in Shakespeare and sexuality studies, including theatre educators, artists, and scholars.” 

    "This book examines Shakespeare's work in an engaging and ambitious fashion and focuses on all facets of the author's work including poetry."

    "For 'insider experts'—those who are Shakespeareans, queer theorists, or both (always, already, at once)—Shakesqueer provides a garden of delights between its covers. . . . Shakesqueer extends, enriches, and strengthens the vocabulary of Shakespeare criticism in concert with queer theory."

    Reviews

  • “[T]he only collection that engages the entirety of Shakespeare’s body of work with queer theory. It is a much-needed addition to both queer and Shakespearean scholarship, broadening and enriching both fields of study and loosening their constraints.”

    “In the end, this book is a big, glorious mess, full of playful juxtapositions and frightening possibilities. It is thrilling. Theatre scholars, queer theorists, actors, directors, and dramaturges will all find something useful and interesting.”

    “Take forty-eight smart and interesting thinkers working in the field of queer theory – some of them Shakespeareans and early modernists, some not – that is one for each of the forty-five works by Shakespeare, plus three for the Sonnets. Get them to write – more or less reluctantly – their observations on the individual work of William Shakespeare allocated to them. . . . Then, in a deliciously hip anachronistic move, apply the notion of queerness to Shakespeare’s opus in order to uphold the idea of its continuing relevance. By rearranging the pixels on the icon of Shakespeare, turn him into an altogether different, modern, fresh, re-thought kind of icon; yet an icon nevertheless. Or, as the Bard himself puts it: one must be cruel only to be kind.”

    “When studying endless Shakespeare plays on English Literature courses, we always had a hunch there were some exceptionally queer goings on beyond some same sex sonnets and this collection of essays proves us right. Earl on earl analysis sits beside complex queer theories on the bard.”

    “Few works of literary criticism deserve the descriptor ‘monumental,’ but this one does. . . . The book is both readable and witty. It is also important, for it drives the final nail into the coffin of 20th-century Shakespearean studies. . . . No hierarchies survive this book. Every play and poem receives a fresh new reading. . . . Essential. All readers.”

    “If you're looking for clues to Romeo and Mercutio's secret romance in the new academic volume Shakesqueer : A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, edited by Madhavi Menon (Duke), you're barking up the wrong yew tree. American University professor Menon and her queer-theorist contributors find queerness in Shakespeare in that term's most all-encompassing meaning of oddball, unusual, or non-normative. But when you come to think of it, fairy queen Titania falling in love with an ass named Bottom is pretty queer, in all senses of the word.”

    “It is rare to see a volume that does so much, and does it with such consistent wit, thoughtfulness, and creativity. . . . In putting together this volume, Menon has done scholars from all fields and periods an immense service. Shakesqueer gives us a very queer new reading ‘’companion’’ — friend, helpmeet, comrade-in-arms — that makes us exquisitely aware of the need for the perverse and disruptive critical practice its essays so pleasurably model.”

    “There’s something for every queer scholar and Bard-lover in the anthology; from bears in Henry VIII to eunuchs in Antony and Cleopatra, from the death drive in Hamlet to precariously heterosexual marriages in All’s Well that Ends Well, the contributing authors chart Shakespeare’s varied engagements with queerness, putting pressure on assumptions that Shakespeare has nothing to offer to contemporary queer theory. . . . The assorted essays assert that Shakespeare has as much to offer queer theory as queer theory can contribute to understanding and deconstructing the Bard’s texts. This book belongs on every bookish queer’s shelf, right where the leather-bound Complete Works of William Shakespeare butts up against Butler and Foucault.”

    “[Shakesqueer] manages to put the fun back into academic research. Shakesqueer is a highly entertaining collection of essays, which all focus on the strange, the unusual, that is, the queer element in the Shakespearean oeuvre.”

    “This balance of well-known and newer voices, taken alongside the predominance of non-Shakespearean queer scholars writing about Shakespeare’s works, results in a collection that will appeal to readers interested in Shakespeare and sexuality studies, including theatre educators, artists, and scholars.” 

    "This book examines Shakespeare's work in an engaging and ambitious fashion and focuses on all facets of the author's work including poetry."

    "For 'insider experts'—those who are Shakespeareans, queer theorists, or both (always, already, at once)—Shakesqueer provides a garden of delights between its covers. . . . Shakesqueer extends, enriches, and strengthens the vocabulary of Shakespeare criticism in concert with queer theory."

  • “The adventurous essays in Shakesqueer demonstrate that queer theory does indeed need Shakespeare, if only to defy rumors of its own demise: the essays show what is vital about a queer studies that might have been thought by this point too domesticated or reified or ‘fixed’ to be intellectually vibrant.” — Carolyn Dinshaw, author of, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern

    “What happens when queer theory gets into bed with Shakespeare? A play in forty-eight acts, this spirited group production never ceases to entertain and surprise with its queer cast of characters: virgins, eunuchs, and lechers; queens, kings, and pageboys; tyrants, assassins, and killjoys; lions, tigers, and bears—oh my! Full of toil and trouble, wit and wisdom, Shakesqueer succeeds where few other edited collections do: it puts the play back in playwright, and the fun back in theory.” — Diana Fuss, Princeton University

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  • Description

    Shakesqueer puts the most exciting queer theorists in conversation with the complete works of William Shakespeare. Exploring what is odd, eccentric, and unexpected in the Bard’s plays and poems, these theorists highlight not only the many ways that Shakespeare can be queered but also the many ways that Shakespeare can enrich queer theory. This innovative anthology reveals an early modern playwright insistently returning to questions of language, identity, and temporality, themes central to contemporary queer theory. Since many of the contributors do not study early modern literature, Shakesqueer takes queer theory back and brings Shakespeare forward, challenging the chronological confinement of queer theory to the last two hundred years. The book also challenges conceptual certainties that have narrowly equated queerness with homosexuality. Chasing all manner of stray desires through every one of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, the contributors cross temporal, animal, theoretical, and sexual boundaries with abandon. Claiming adherence to no one school of thought, the essays consider The Winter’s Tale alongside network TV, Hamlet in relation to the death drive, King John as a history of queer theory, and Much Ado About Nothing in tune with a Sondheim musical. Together they expand the reach of queerness and queer critique across chronologies, methodologies, and bodies.

    Contributors. Matt Bell, Amanda Berry, Daniel Boyarin, Judith Brown, Steven Bruhm, Peter Coviello, Julie Crawford, Drew Daniel, Mario DiGangi, Lee Edelman, Jason Edwards, Aranye Fradenburg, Carla Freccero, Daniel Juan Gil, Jonathan Goldberg, Jody Greene, Stephen Guy-Bray, Ellis Hanson, Sharon Holland, Cary Howie, Lynne Huffer, Barbara Johnson, Hector Kollias, James Kuzner , Arthur L. Little Jr., Philip Lorenz, Heather Love, Jeffrey Masten, Robert McRuer , Madhavi Menon, Michael Moon, Paul Morrison, Andrew Nicholls, Kevin Ohi, Patrick R. O’Malley, Ann Pellegrini, Richard Rambuss, Valerie Rohy, Bethany Schneider, Kathryn Schwarz, Laurie Shannon, Ashley T. Shelden, Alan Sinfield, Bruce Smith, Karl Steel, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Amy Villarejo, Julian Yates

    About The Author(s)

    Madhavi Menon is Associate Professor of Literature at American University. She is the author of Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film and Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama.


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