The inspiration for this Pressbook came from my many years of teaching literature at James Cook University in Townsville and Griffith University in Brisbane. Shakespeare’s Major Plays is an attempt to shift into the digital world the joy I feel in interacting with students over Shakespeare’s works. In composing the text and exercises and especially in choosing the images, I’ve felt an equal joy in interacting with Librarians at James Cook University, especially Dr Kezia Perry. Librarians habitually work behind the scenes, and this is true with respect to the present project. Shakespeare’s Major Plays nevertheless exists because of JCU Librarians’ expertise and the encouragement I’ve received from my friends in JCU’s Centre for Arts, Social Sciences and Education.

Like most literature teachers my purpose is to inspire students with the confidence and enthusiasm they need for building their own insights into novels, plays and poems. Years of practice have alerted me to the possibility of misreadings, a problem that expands exponentially with respect to Shakespeare. While the range of Shakespeare interpretations, published and unpublished, is vast, ingenious and insightful, it is not (or should not be) without rational limits. Words and syntax and the facts of characterisation and plot rule out some readings. In writing this Pressbook I have tried not to pursue interpretative fantasies of my own (or not to pursue them far), but to rest as far as possible at the level of textual validity. While I can’t claim that there are no errors in Shakespeare’s Major Plays, I can claim that I have done my best to avoid them.

When anyone studies a Shakespeare play in conjunction with another or others, insights emerge that are not apparent when the same plays are read or watched singly. I hope that the association in this volume of commentary on three plays first performed within six years of each other (1596-1602) and at a transitional point in European history and Shakespeare’s life, will produce such insights.

Depending on the usefulness, as indicated by rates of consultation, of Shakespeare’s Major Plays, Volume One, we are planning Volume Two, which will offer introductions to Twelfth Night, King Lear and Macbeth.

Click on if you would like to consult my lectures on other literary topics.

Cheryl Taylor


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Shakespeare's Major Plays Copyright © 2024 by Cheryl Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.