Foreign Worlds

Jane Hwang Degenhardt

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Foreign Worlds


This article considers some of the ways that Shakespeare's plays registered England's growing awareness of the foreign worlds beyond its borders by incorporating topical references, and by projecting in less-direct ways English fantasies and apprehensions about cross-cultural commerce, travel, and exploration. In particular, it considers the significance of the Mediterranean world, which was a place of central importance to Shakespeare because of its rich classical legacies and its contemporary hubs of East–West commerce, newly accessed by the English. The article also examines some of the ways that Shakespeare's settings evoke foreign worlds through richly layered temporal resonances. A brief case study of Twelfth Night demonstrates how contemporary geopolitical resonances might offer deeper insight into Shakespeare's foreign settings and their animation of temporal, geographical, and imperial border zones.

Keywords: Shakespeare's plays; cross-cultural commerce; exploration; Mediterranean world; East–West commerce; Twelfth Night

Article.  12407 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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