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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In addition to providing an overview of the volume’s thirty-three chapters and a summary of key works of criticism on the comedies since the mid-twentieth century, the Introduction explains the Handbook’s conceptual frame of the ‘encounter’. Relying on recent work in critical semantics, the chapter explains the usefulness and relevance of the idea of the ‘encounter’—as a meeting that can be either aggressive or amatory—for investigating Shakespeare’s comedies in their time and our own. It suggests that Shakespeare’s comedies are best viewed from perspectives that consider the ways in which they offer occasions for various kinds of unexpected interactions, whether between character and character, performer and audience, or performance tradition and innovation.

Keywords: comedy, philology, encounter, New World, genre, Shakespeare, semantics

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