Shakespeare's Scriptures: reading, writing, and the sacred in Shakespearean poetry


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project enquires into the relation between Reformation-era practices of reading sacred and "quasi-sacred" texts and Shakespeare’s use of these texts in his poetry and drama. From a contextualising review of Bible-reading habits in the sixteenth century—theoretical, controversial and popular—this study moves through a series of readings of Shakespearean works in all genres, analyzing and discussing their use of sources that bear or bear on Biblical authority. What is at stake in these encounters is the transformation or wresting of that authority in various and highly original ways that deform without wholly canceling it, creating scope for the kinds of sacralizing of Shakespeare’s own authority now almost ubiquitous.