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Kristin M.S. Bezio

This essay examines early modern notions of ideal and problematic leadership through the lens of Shakespeare's King Henry V. The piece argues that critical depictions of Henry as either charismatic or Machiavellian are reductive; Henry's success as a monarch derives from his ability to balance necessary authority with what I term ‘performative negotiation.’ In this model, Henry's publicly constructed persona serves as a means of ‘negotiating’ his sovereignty with his subjects, but also acts as an exemplum for the present and future monarchs of England.

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Kristin M.S. Bezio

The first chapter addresses Christopher Marlowe, whose influence over his own time was significant, as he was one of the first playwrights to develop the dramatic formula we have come to associate with the now more famous Shakespeare. In the years since his death in 1593, Marlowe has become an icon of early atheism and heresy, as well as resistance to an authoritarian government. In addition to his impact on the dramatic genre, Marlowe’s work, particularly Massacre at Paris, shows disdain for the violence that seemed to him endemic to the English Reformation, and suggests a nihilistic view of religion as detrimental to society.

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Kristin M.S. Bezio

Anti-Catholicism in early modern England (from 1558 to 1658) bears an alarming similarity to twenty-first-century American Islamophobia. From suggestions of an Islamic registry to tales of secret Jihadist cults operating in Florida, the paranoid anti-Islamic rhetoric of post-2001 populist America has some disturbing parallels to the one hundred years of virulent anti-Catholicism that transformed Shakespeare’s England following the death of Queen Mary. This chapter will examine the historical context surrounding anti-Catholic rhetoric and persecution in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England leading up to the Civil War, suggesting that modern Western leadership needs to take into consideration the toxic historical ramifications of such a campaign.

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Kristin M.S. Bezio

This chapter addresses Christopher Marlowe, whose influence over his own time was significant, as he was one of the first playwrights to develop the dramatic formula we have come to associate with the now more-famous Shakespeare. In the years since his death in 1593, Marlowe has become an icon of early atheism and heresy, as well as resistance to an authoritarian government. In addition to his impact on the dramatic genre, Marlowe’s work, particularly Massacre at Paris, shows disdain for the violence that seemed to him endemic to the English Reformation, and suggests a nihilistic view of religion as detrimental to society.

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Kristin M.S. Bezio

Within the past decade, video games—often associated with violence and shooting—have entered a new stage in their development as a sophisticated and even artistic medium. In light of popular and news attacks on the ethical value of games, many independent development companies and designers have sought to make use of digital platforms to evolve the medium away from violent (or, at least, only violent) content and to use digital gameplay to encourage empathy and human connectivity. In this chapter, I discuss a few examples of these games, including Journey (thatgamecompany, 2012) and the Mass Effect series (2007–17) both of which use the interactivity to evoke imaginative empathy and produce a common human connection via digital gaming, thereby encouraging players to engage in leadership and transformational change in the real world.

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Kristin M. S. Bezio

Although Sir Thomas More is a collaborative play to which Shakespeare contributed only a part, it fits within the larger paradigm of Shakespeare’s non-collaborative works. In Sir Thomas More, More himself embodies the role of the Elizabethan bureaucrat who rises from a lowly status to the epitome of power. In the play, More has a crisis of conscience, the consequence of both a refugee crisis and religious conflict, a situation with eerie parallels to the United States under the presidency of Donald Trump. The unrest which begins the play - and More’s refusal to ratify Henry VIII’s attempt to break from Rome - finds echoes in contemporary political conflicts over refugees, border walls, and the global pandemic. Even the uncertainty surrounding Sir Thomas More’s production (whether or not it ever was staged) presages calls to censor news outlets which print material deemed offensive by a totalitarian-style presidency.

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Edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and Kimberly Yost

The newest generation of leaders was raised on a steady diet of popular culture artifacts mediated through technology, such as film, television and online gaming. As technology expands access to cultural production, popular culture continues to play an important role as an egalitarian vehicle for promoting ideological dissent and social change. The chapters in this book examine works and creators of popular culture – from literature to film and music to digital culture – in order to address the ways in which popular culture shapes and is shaped by leaders around the globe as they strive to change their social systems for the better.
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Edited by Peter Iver Kaufman and Kristin M.S. Bezio

Contributions to this book probe the contexts–both social and spiritual–from which select iconic figures emerge and discover how to present themselves as innovators and cultural leaders as well as draw material into forms that subsequent generations consider innovative or emblematic. The overall import of the book is to locate producers of culture such as authors, poets, singers, and artists as leaders both in their respective genres and of culture and society more broadly through the influence exerted by their works.
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Edited by Peter Iver Kaufman and Kristin M.S. Bezio

The preface, by Kristin M.S. Bezio, begins with a definition of “culture” and an explanation of how culture—and, specifically, cultural works like literature, art and music—engages in leadership, both on its own and through those who create it.