Henry V, the Gulf War, and Cultural Materialism 
This paper is about the difficult relationship between visions 
of the future and known history in Shakespeare’s Henry V; it 
is also about finding a way to make cultural materialism 
comprehensible to undergraduates.  Three particular moments of 
historical/cultural schism are analyzed: between the play and 
the history it represents, when the final Chorus steps forward 
and tells us that everything Henry has won will shortly be lost; 
between the play and its originary moment, where a hopeful vision 
of the Earl of Essex returning victorious to London from Ireland 
is dashed only months after the play premiered; and between a 
modern victor in a modern battle, in a series of articles in 
Forbes magazine using Shakespeare’s play to “understand” the 
Gulf War.  These three moments are linked, in order to offer a 
template for using the relationships of texts to historical 
moments for teaching a cultural materialist perspective to 
undergraduate students of Shakespeare.