Shakespearean Criticism

Criticism of William Shakespeare’s Plays and Poetry, from the First Published Appraisals to Current Evaluations.

Shakespearean Criticism (SC) provides students, educators, theatergoers, and other interested readers with valuable insight into Shakespeare’s drama and poetry. A multiplicity of viewpoints documenting the critical reaction of scholars and commentators from the seventeenth century to the present day are reprinted in the series from hundreds of periodicals and books. Students and teachers at all levels of study will benefit from SC, whether they seek information for class discussions and written assignments, new perspectives on traditional issues, or the most noteworthy analyses of Shakespeare’s artistry.

Scope of the Series

Volumes 1 through 10 of the series present a unique historical overview of the critical response to each Shakespearean work, representing a broad range of interpretations.

Volumes 11 through 26 examine the performance history of Shakespeare’s plays on the stage and screen through eyewitness reviews and retrospective evaluations of individual productions, comparisons of major interpretations, and discussions of staging issues.

Volumes 27 through 56 focus on criticism published after 1960, with a view to providing the reader with the most significant modern critical approaches. Each volume is ordered around a theme that is central to the study of Shakespeare, such as politics, religion, or sexuality. The topic entry that introduces each volume comprises general essays that discuss this theme with reference to all of Shakespeare’s works. Following the topic entry are several entries devoted to individual works.

Beginning with volume 57 in the series, SC provides a works-based approach; each of the three or four entries contained in a regular volume focuses on a specific Shakespearean play or poem. The entries will include the most recent criticism available on the works, as well as earlier criticism not previously included in SC. Some volumes also contain topic entries comprising essays that analyze various topics, or themes, found in Shakespeare’s works. Past topic entries have covered such subjects as madness, jealousy, politics, and war and warfare.

Until volume 48, published in October 1999, SC compiled an annual volume of the most noteworthy essays published on Shakespeare during the previous year. The essays, reprinted in their entirety, were recommended to Gale by an international panel of distinguished scholars.

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