Sea Images in Shakespeare$S Plays and English Renaissance Maritime Culture (Ii-Ii)

Project: National Science and Technology CouncilNational Science and Technology Council Academic Grants

Project Details


This research proposal is for the second year of a two-year research project. I am currently working on the first year of the project. Loaded with sea images, Shakespeare’s plays circulate the enormous fantasies of the English about sea adventures during the Renaissance, which were triggered by excitement from the discovery of new lands, new trade routes and legends of successful pirates. As an island-country surrounded by waters, England has always had an intimate relationship with sea, while Shakespeare, as a playwright attempting to attract audiences into his theater, knew how to play up familiar sea images in various ways to enhance theatrical fascination. The research reexamines Shakespeare’s presentation of maritime culture and his use of sea images in his plays. By integrating textual analysis with Renaissance historical contexts related to maritime culture, such as Queen Elizabeth’s privateering practice, the legend of Sir Francis Drake, and England’s long term hostility with France and with Spain, the research appropriates New Historicist approaches aiming to shed more light on our understanding of Shakespeare’s sea images and the cultural/historical significances of these images. The research project is divided into two years. The first year aims at exploring the Renaissance historical contexts related to maritime culture, and analyzing images and roles of sea in four Shakespearean plays—The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night and Hamlet. The second year aims at analyzing sea images in Shakespeare’s ten history plays and relating them to English Renaissance historical contexts and maritime culture. After more than four months of research for this year’s project (from August 2011), I have a rather good mastery over materials on Renaissance maritime culture and I have also completed a conference paper on the subject. The second year of the research will undoubtedly yield a promising result.

Project IDs

Project ID:PE10107-0203
External Project ID:NSC101-2410-H182-022
Effective start/end date01/08/1231/07/13


  • Shakespeare
  • maritime culture
  • sea images
  • privateering
  • pirate
  • geography


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