In this new monograph, Claire Hansen demonstrates how Shakespeare can be understood as a complex system, and how complexity theory can provide compelling and original readings of Shakespeare’s plays. The book utilises complexity theory to illuminate early modern theatrical practice, Shakespeare pedagogy, and the phenomenon of the Shakespeare ‘myth’. The monograph re-evaluates Shakespeare, his plays, early modern theatre, and modern classrooms as complex systems, illustrating how the lens of complexity offers an enlightening new perspective on diverse areas of Shakespeare scholarship. The book’s interdisciplinary approach enriches our understanding of Shakespeare and lays the foundation for complexity theory in Shakespeare studies and the humanities more broadly.

chapter |6 pages


Shakespeare, the System

chapter 1|36 pages

The Characteristics of Complexity

chapter 2|32 pages

‘Like a tangled chain: nothing impaired, but all disordered’

Dance and Bounded Instability in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

chapter 3|29 pages

‘Hath the firmament more suns than one?’

Co-authorship, Space and Self-Organisation in Titus Andronicus

chapter 4|41 pages

‘Such Branches of Learning’

The Unexpected in Shakespeare Pedagogy and The Merchant of Venice

chapter 5|53 pages

‘Constant as the Northern Star’?

The Power of Attractors in Stratford-upon-Avon and Julius Caesar

chapter |4 pages