One outcome of this research is a volume of essays, Cold War Shakespeare: Conflict, Commemoration, Celebration, co-edited with Erica Sheen (York University) that will be published by Palgrave this winter. This essay collection examines acts of commemorating and celebrating Shakespeare in Cold War Europe – Germany, France, UK, USSR, Poland, Spain and Hungary – from its beginnings in 1947/8 to the end of the 1970s. Written by international Shakespearians, scholars of the Cold War and historians of commemoration, the essays assembled here consider representative events as sites of memory, cultural politics and international diplomacy, and show how they inform our understanding of the political, economic, even military, dynamics of the post-war global order. The volume thus explores the political and cultural function of Shakespearian celebration in the European Cold War, as well as the impact of Cold War politics on the productions, criticism and scholarship associated with it. Drawing on new archival material, it offers historically and theoretically nuanced accounts of Shakespeare’s international significance in the divided world of Cold War Europe and today.
An important project I have just completed is my monograph The Drama of Memory in Shakespeare’s History Plays (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Situating the history plays in relation to the extra-dramatic contexts of early modern print culture, the Reformation and an emergent sense of nationhood, the book examines the dramatic devices the theatre developed to engage with the memory crisis triggered by these historical developments. Against the established view that the theatre was a cultural site that served primarily to salvage memories threatened by traumatic ruptures it considers also the liberating uses and constitutive functions of forgetting in early modern culture and on the Shakespearean stage. Drawing on recent developments in memory studies, new formalism and performance studies, it develops a vocabulary for analysing Shakespeare’s mnemonic dramaturgy that results in innovative readings of the history plays.