General Works on Shakespeare as Political Thinker

This list is a sampling of some of the principal works that take Shakespeare seriously as a political thinker. Many of the authors in these books come from political science departments; some are literature professors with a special interest in politics.

Bruce Altschuler and Michael Genovese, eds., Shakespeare and Politics: What a Sixteenth-Century Playwright Can Teach Us About Twenty-First Century Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2014)

Joseph Alulis and Vickie Sullivan, eds., Shakespeare’s Political Pageant: Essays in Politics and Literature (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996)

John E. Alvis, Shakespeare’s Understanding of Honor (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1989)

John E. Alvis and Thomas G. West, eds., Shakespeare as Political Thinker, 2nd Edition (Wilmington, DE: ISI, 2000)—the pioneering collection of essays on the subject; still one of the best introductions to the subject; see especially Allan Bloom, “Richard II” and Harry V. Jaffa, “The Unity of Tragedy, Comedy, and History: An Interpretation of the Shakespearean Universe”

Allan Bloom and Harry Jaffa, Shakespeare’s Politics (New York: Basic Books, 1965)—the path-breaking book in the field; still one of the best introductions to the subject

Allan Bloom, Love and Friendship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)—essays on Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, and Henry IV

Timothy W. Burns, Shakespeare’s Political Wisdom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Paul A. Cantor, “Against Chivalry: The Achievement of Cervantes and Shakespeare,” Weekly Standard, May 2, 2016, 24-28—on the relation of Shakespeare’s comedies to his histories

Paul A. Cantor, “Playwright of the Globe,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2006/2007, 34-40—on the universality of Shakespeare’s appeal

Paul A. Cantor, “Stephen Greenblatt’s New Historicist Vision,” Academic Questions, Fall 1993, 21-36—critique of an important contemporary political approach to Shakespeare

Leon Craig, Of Philosophers and Kings: Political Philosophy in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and King Lear (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001)

Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin A. Gish, eds., Souls With Longing: Representations of Honor and Love in Shakespeare (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2011)

Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin A. Gish, eds., Shakespeare and the Body Politic (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2013)

David Lowenthal, Shakespeare and the Good Life: Ethics and Politics in Dramatic Form (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997)

Mary Ann McGrail, Tyranny in Shakespeare (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2002)

John A. Murley and Sean D. Sutton, eds., Perspectives on Politics in Shakespeare (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2006)—this book contains an extensive bibliography on Shakespeare as political thinker

Stephen W. Smith and Travis Cutright, eds., Shakespeare’s Last Plays: Essays in Literature and Politics (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2002)

Howard White, Copp’d Hills Towards Heaven: Shakespeare and the Classical Polity (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978)

Howard White, Antiquity Forgot: Essays on Shakespeare, Bacon, and Rembrandt (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978)

Catherine Zuckert, ed., Review of Politics—Special Issue on Shakespeare and Politics, Fall 2016