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156 Reviews introductions he gained on his marriage are all offered up for our approval. Nor does Corbellari acknowledge that the 'service of truth' might m e a n different things at different times, surely a founding presumption of this essay collection. Laura Kendrick, for example, argues that the science of medieval philology, built on the belief in the possibility of returning to authentic texts, is a 'discipline of imposture'; David Hult writes of the 'necessity to understand scholarship as a political act'; and Jeffrey Peck describes the w a y in which 'The constant reinvention of the discipline through the histories written about it draws our attention to the conditions under which disciplinary practices acquire meaning'. These aren't just empty formulations: most of the essays here work steadily through discrete moments and formations in medieval studies, exploring the various personal and institutional investments at work, particularly the forces of French and German nationalism. In the essay that opens this collection, 'Modernism and the Politics of Medieval Studies', Stephen Nichols describes modernist historiography as 'A history in the service of the present, which believes in the superiority of the modern age for understanding the past'. There is of course a crucial paradox for most medievalists, whether they proclaim themselves 'new' or not. The professional authority which is their modernist inheritance is precisely what makes it so hard to relinquish that same sense of superiority in understanding their o w n past. Only some of the contributors to this volume are able to negotiate this paradox. Stephanie Trigg Department of English University of Melbourne Bristol, Michael D., Big-time Shakespeare, London and New York, Routledge, 1996; cloth; pp. 256; R.R.P. £45.00, US$59.95 (cloth),£14.99, US$25.00 (paper). Big-time Shakespeare deals with Shakespeare and the entertainment industry. It combines authoritative research and concise and compelling critical inquiry about the history of Shakespeare from the Reviews 157 Elizabethan playhouse to the cinema. It would make excellent basic reading for current undergraduates w h o study Shakespeare and recent films of the plays. Read in relation to Bristol's previous criticism, Big-time Shakespeare is part of a continuing and increasingly interesting critical project focussed on Shakespeare and the material and historical conditions of culture from the Renaissance to the present. Carnival and Theater (1986) was concerned with Bakhtin's theory of carnival and the rise of plebeian drama in the Renaissance. Shakespeare's America, America's Shakespeare (1990) deals with Shakespearean studies in America from the eighteenth century to N e w Historicism. In Shakespeare's America, America's Shakespeare Bristol develops a theoretical point of view defined in terms of a distinctive rhetoric and praxis and with selective reference to the materialist tradition. Reference to Bakhtin is accompanied by selective reference to Adorno, Althusser, Gramsci and Habermas, but without an explicit political agenda. The history of Shakespeare in America is presented in relation to the rise of a bourgeois cultural hegemony since the Renaissance (p. 87), and with the emphasis that the American Shakespearean tradition involves a nostalgic, redemptive demand for totalising order and stable values (p.155-57), a demand in contrast to the 'pervasive anomie' and 'social effervescence' Bristol defines as essential characteristics of Elizabethan popular theatre and the present stage of late capitalism (p. 97, pp. 196-97). Big-Time Shakespeare involves a shift in focus in response to the 1990s. The first half of Big-Time Shakespeare provides an overview of the history of Shakespeare's plays as 'cultural merchandise' (p. 72) and as founding documents in the history of modernity. The Elizabethan playhouse is defined as a development within 'an emerging trade in cultural commodities' (p. 35). That view of Shakespeare's historical significance is followed by related comment on Davenant and the theatrical tradition, the history of editions of the plays, and recent developments in the 'culture industry', such as Shakespeare festivals, Branagh's Henry V and media sensationalism about the claims that the plays were written by the Earl of Oxford. The second half consists mainly of essays on The Winter's Tale, Othello and Hamlet. In addition 158 Reviews to Bristol's illuminating critical insights...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 156-159
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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