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Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy

Edited by Jennifer Ann Bates, Richard Wilson

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Essays by leading authors on Shakespeare drawing on contemporary and early continental philosophy

This collection of 15 essays by celebrated authors in Shakespeare studies and in continental philosophy develops different aspects of the interface between continental thinking and Shakespeare's plays. The authors draw from current continental philosophy (e.g. Lacan, Foucault, Derrida) as well as from the 19th century continental tradition (e.g. Hegel, Kierkegaard) and from the early roots of continental tradition (e.g. Aristotle, Ibn Sina). The chapters address the span of the tragedies, comedies and history plays in the light of thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Ibn Sina and Jean-Luc Marion, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Schmitt, Arendt, Lacan, Levinas, Foucault and Derrida.

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Foreword by Michael Witmore
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Richard Wilson
Part I: The Play’s The Thing
1. Paul A. Kottman: ‘“The Charm Dissolves Apace:” Shakespeare and the Self-dissolution of Drama’ (The Tempest, Aristotle and Hegel)
2. Jennifer Ann Bates: ‘Hamlet and Kierkegaard on Outwitting Recollection’ (Hamlet and Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript)
3. Tom Stern: ‘Schopenhauer’s Shakespeare: The Genius on the World Stage’
4. Peter Holbrook: ‘Nietzsche's Shakespeare’
5. James A. Knapp: ‘Richard II’s Silent, Tortured Soul’ (Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Luc Marion, and Levinas)
Part II: That Wide Gap
6. Andrew Cutrofello: ‘Is Othello Jealous? Coleridge and Russell contra Wittgenstein and Cavell'
7. Edward S. Casey: ‘Hamlet on the Edge’ (Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty)
8. Howard Caygill: ‘Levinas and Shakespeare’
9. Christopher Pye: ‘Contra Schmitt: Law, Aesthetics, and Absolutism in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale’ (Carl Schmitt)
10. Julia Reinhard Lupton ‘Arendt in Italy: Or, the Taming of the Shrew’ (Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben and Roberto Esposito)
Part III: Damnable Iteration
11. Richard Wilson: ‘Ship of Fools: Foucault and the Shakespeareans
12. Catherine Belsey: ‘Antinomies of Desire: Lacanian Psychoanalysis and the Sonnets’
13. Bernard Freydberg ‘“No” as Affirmation: A Continental-Philosophical Reading of Coriolanus’
14. Christopher Norris: ‘Provoking Philosophy: Shakespeare, Johnson, Wittgenstein, and Derrida’
15. Nicholas Royle ‘Miracle Play’ (Jacques Derrida)

About the Author

Jennifer Bates is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University. She specialises in 19th-Century German Philosophy with an emphasis on Hegel. She is the author of two books: Hegel's Theory of Imagination (SUNY, 2004) and Hegel and Shakespeare on Moral Imagination (SUNY, 2010).

Richard Wilson is Sir Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kingston University, London, and the author of Free Will: Art and power on Shakespeare’s stage; Shakespeare in French Theory: King of Shadows; Secret Shakespeare: Essays on theatre, religion and resistance; and Will Power: Studies in Shakespearean authority. He was described by the critic A.D, Nuttall as ‘perhaps the most brilliant of the Shakespearean historicists’.


The contributors are all of high caliber and the essays are adventurous, refreshing and wide-ranging in their appeal. The book will make a substantial contribution to the task of exploring Shakespeare as a critical thinker,  whose dramas perform conceptual work of the first order.  This is a break with both the dominance of "theory" and with historicism.


- Sarah T Beckwith, Duke University

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