• Jean E.Howard and Marion F.O’Connor (eds), Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology (London and New York: Routledge, 1987), 292 pp., £45.00 (hardback), £10.99 (paperback) • Malcolm Evans, Signifying Nothing: Truth’s True Contents in Shakespeare’s Texts (Brighton: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 2nd edn, 1989), 317 pp., £10.95 (paperback) • Michael D.Bristol, Shakespeare’s America: America’s Shakespeare (London and New York: Routledge, 1990) 237 pp., £36.00 (hardback), £9.99 (paperback)
Shakespeare Reproduced comprises papers given at the International Shakespeare Congress held in Berlin, 1986. The momentous events of November 1989 could not then be foreseen, of course, and in their preface the editors, Jean E.Howard and Marion F.O’Connor, refer to the Berlin Wall as a signifier which marked the city as ‘the site of political contest and ideological division’. The object of their reference is to point out a structural similarity between lived social reality, Shakespeare’s texts and the proceedings of the Conference itself. Now the Wall has gone, it would appear that the division to which they refer has since become less a matter of polarization and position, and more a question of political process. The relevance of their analogy remains since what these essays have in common with other recent publications on Shakespeare is their participation in a discursive process, an exploration and critique of reading practices in light of current discourses about literature, criticism, gender and modernity.