This module introduces undergraduate students to the ways that textual criticism can shed new light on King Lear. The three activities and two assignments should allow students to explore textual variants in different editions of the play, to understand how editorial choices shape the play, and to create their own version of Lear by becoming editors themselves. After mastering these skills, students can use the service learning exercise in this module to familiarize middle or high schoolers with basic aspects of these early printed texts.
The goal of this module is to show students that there is no one, single version of Lear, but rather two different early editions: the 1608 Quarto and the 1623 First Folio (the latter represented in this module by the 1685 Fourth Folio). Comparing these early printings allows students to grasp the instability of print while also offering new possibilities for understanding characterization, plot, and theme in Lear. By becoming editors themselves, students will learn firsthand that every edition of Lear is really an interpretation of the play.
It will be very useful for students to have some basic terminology about early modern print:
Students may also find it helpful to know about the critical debates about the origin of the differences between the Quarto and Folio:
As a supplement to this module, we have digitized the Quarto and Fourth Folio (see Digital Texts). Students can use the Mirador reader for side-by-side comparison of these editions.
William Shakespeare. M. William Shak-speare: his true chronicle historie of the life and death of King Lear and his three daughters. With the unfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his sullen and assumed humor of Tom of Bedlam. London, 1608. LUNA: Folger Digital Image Collection. Digital Image File Name: 782. The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.
|Jaime Goodrich is the coordinator of Dividing the Kingdoms and an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University. She has published over a dozen articles and book chapters on women writers, religious literature, and humanism in early modern England. Her monograph Faithful Translators: Authorship, Gender, and Religion in Early Modern England (Northwestern University Press, 2014) examines the social and political functions of women’s devotional translations. She is currently editing texts written by and about early modern English nuns in Benedictine and Poor Clare convents, and she is also researching a book on textual production and communal identity in English Benedictine convents on the Continent.|