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Shakespeare Research Guide

Getting Started

Shakespeare may be the most written-about author in English -- there's a LOT of information about him.  This guide is about pinpointing the kinds of resources you need. 

This first page of the guide is intended to point you to the spot that may serve your specific needs.

Ways to Write about Shakespeare

The kinds of resources will use will depend very heavily on the kinds of writing you want to do! This is a list of some of the approaches you might decide to take, and the resources you might need.


Textual Criticism

You're looking at the way that meaning is constructed within a play or sonnet.  

You'll certainly need:

You may also want to check out variorum editions and concordances; please see the section on Reference Works for more information.

You may also find it useful to look at multiple editions of the play in question; in that case, you may find the electronic editions helpful.


Engaging with Other Critics

This is a strategy that works for lots of different approaches. You need to know what interpretations have been advanced, so that you can build on them, challenge them, or perhaps a bit of both. 

In such cases, it's a good idea to consult:

There are, of course, many other places you might want to look for criticism!  I have a lot more information about books and journal articles, along with some search tips and potential keywords for each. 


Analysis of Performance, Reception, and Influence

What has Shakespeare meant over the years and how have his works been interpreted?

While the works of criticism mentioned above may help you answer this question, there are also specific strategies and resources for answering questions like these.  

The Historical and Biographical Sources page covers this in a section on performance history.


Historical Analysis

You can relate Shakespeare's works to historical events or texts.  

The Historical and Biographical Sources page links to both secondary and primary historical sources, with explanations of what they do.  

Of course, "history" is really big, so you may want to think specifically about the aspects of history that you want to consider.

Other Guides