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Taking a 'performance studies' perspective on Shakespearean theatre, W. B. Worthen argues that the theatrical event represents less an inquiry into the presumed meanings of the text than an effort to frame performance as a vehicle of cultural critique. Using contemporary performances as test cases, Worthen explores the interfaces between the origins of Shakespeare's writing as literature and as theatre, the modes of engagement with Shakespeare's plays for readers and spectators, and the function of changing performance technologies on our knowledge of Shakespeare. This book not only provides the material for performance analysis, but places important contemporary Shakespeare productions in dialogue with three influential areas of critical discourse: texts and authorship, the function of character in cognitive theatre studies, and the representation of theatre and performing in the digital humanities. This book will be vital reading for scholars and advanced students of Shakespeare and of Performance Studies.