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date: 17 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Revisiting a pervasive through-line of 1990s feminist approaches to Henry V, this essay posits that this body of criticism has bestowed a powerful but restrictive sense of the relation between language, embodiment, and agency in the play. Focusing on the play’s process of displaying competing models of linguistic ‘incorporation’, I argue that Kate’s speech—both on stage and in its typographic embodiment in the first Folio—puts English’s heterogeneity on display, challenging the model of monolingualism that undergirds Henry’s articulations of England’s conquest. Sounding out the limits of ‘the King’s English’, and showcasing the ways in which bodies of language exceed the cultural histories and implicit genealogical principles that they are invoked to define, Kate’s speech poses significant challenges to Henry’s desire to render England and France an ‘incorporate league’.

Keywords: William Shakespeare, Henry the Fifth, language, feminist criticism, puns, translation, Anglo–French relations, incorporation, editorial conventions/history

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