This book explores parallels between William Shakespeare's second set of history plays, consisting of Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V, and the HBO Western television series Deadwood (2004-2006).
Both sets of works take as their source national myths or legends, sanitized versions of how order was formed out of disorder.
Deadwood and the Henriad critique these stories we tell ourselves about national origins.
Set in unstable political environments during or after civil conflict, these genres raise questions about legitimate political authority and the qualities of an effective leader.
The first question that study of the past raises is often directly connected to present concerns: How did we get to this point?
Deadwood bears several markers of the influence of Shakespeare's Henriad.
Drawing upon textual analysis and cultural studies approaches, this book focuses on a comparison of these specific works' commonalities and distinctions, and what we can learn from them about gender roles, political power and community, the reciprocal relationship of the past to the present in fictional historical narratives, the human condition, and complex narrative structures designed to manage audience responses.