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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates how Shakespeare exploits the possibilities of popular song to foreground lyric’s capacity to condense affect, to model the absorption of his audiences, and to engage with conflicts over ‘the common’—the push of the common-as-vulgar and the pull of the common-as-universal. At the same moment that song collections are attempting to sort out elite lyric from low broadside, Shakespeare repeatedly draws on these lesser lyrics to ask his audiences what they share and what they do not with these singers and songs, and the warrants, real and fantastical, for those identifications and distinctions. These lyric dynamics are most apparent in the comedies (A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night) but also play a key role in history (2 Henry IV), tragedy (Hamlet), and romance (The Winter’s Tale).

Keywords: song, lyric, ballad, popular culture, identification, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, 2 Henry IV, Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale

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