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English Literature   >   Shakespeare and Print Culture

Printing in Shakespeare's England

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Shakespeare and Print Culture

In this course, Professor Helen Smith (University of York) explores the relationship between early modern print culture and the works of Shakespeare. In the first module, we go through a brief overview of printing discussing the innovation of movable type to the status of printing in England in Shakespeare’s day. In the second module, we consider the role of books on Shakespeare’s stage in Hamlet, The Tempest, Cymbeline and Titus Andronicus. In the third, we consider the journey of Shakespeare’s work in print, from his earliest plays to the posthumous First Folio. We continue to look at Shakespeare’s work in print in the fourth, focusing on Shakespeare’s quartos and folios. In the fifth module, we discuss the critical history of Shakespeare in print and suggest further reading.

Printing in Shakespeare's England

In the first module, we look at printing in Early Modern England, discussing: (i) Gutenberg’s innovations in printing and their Korean/Chinese influence, (ii) Daniel Bellingradt’s argument that materials, rather than technology was crucial to the ‘printing revolution’, (iii) William Caxton’s printing of the first book in English, (iv) Church and Crown censorship of English and Scottish publishing until the 1640s, (v) the Bishop’s Ban of 1599 which banned the circulation of plays, poems and pamphlets and (vi) the opinions of some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries on print.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Smith, H. (2023, January 17). Shakespeare and Print Culture - Printing in Shakespeare's England [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Smith, H. "Shakespeare and Print Culture – Printing in Shakespeare's England." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Jan 2023,

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Prof. Helen Smith

Prof. Helen Smith

York University