Plants: Shakespeare’s Mulberry: Eco-materialism and “Living on”

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    According to one of the few half-credible eighteenth-century legends about William Shakespeare, the poet planted a mulberry tree on the grounds of his stately Stratford home New place. In early modern culture, old trees served as venues for imagining intergenerational subjectivity. Human vanity, of course, is the chief reason why mulberry trees were brought to England in the first place. Rather than incriminate Shakespeare as a willing participant in the early anthropocene, the mulberry legend foregrounds a humbling biological fact: trees outlive people. The adoration of Shakespeare’s mulberry also coincided with the mid-eighteenth-century reappraisal of nature and natural religion. The temptation to compare Shakespeare’s mulberry with the “True Cross” is irresistible. Michael Drayton’s antiquarianism, his deep history, fosters a perspective not far removed from deep ecology. Mankind’s tampering with ecology has unleashed invasive species, genetically modified organisms, mass extinction, and global climate change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication The Shakespearean International Yearbook
    Subtitle of host publicationSpecial Section, Shakespeare and the Human
    EditorsTom Bishop, Alexa Huang, Tiffany Jo Werth
    Place of PublicationAbingdon & New York
    Number of pages23
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315264233
    ISBN (Print)9781472468482
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2015

    Publication series

    NameShakespearean International Yearbook
    ISSN (Print)1465-5098


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