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The Archive and the Digital Age: Field Notes from the Pedagogical Front

Abstract

The digital environment in which the humanities are now firmly immersed has opened the door to innovative ways for students to interact with traditional formats such as archival and print material, and to develop a deep and personal understanding of topics and issues. Libraries, museums and archives are in the unique position of facilitating the creation of digital initiatives in the classroom by offering up their collections as “learning laboratories,” and by sharing their expertise in technology, information, and digital literacy as well as data management. Through active collaboration with course instructors, they can build bridges between their collections and the digital skills students need in order to embrace the new learning paradigm and to help lead them into the future. This paper outlines an archival-digital pilot launched in 2015 at the University of Ottawa, Canada. It situates the project in its historical context; details its early and subsequent iterations; and surveys the assumptions, challenges, surprises, and pleasures of introducing students to archival sources and to acquiring digital skills.

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Book Reviews
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The Development of Marxist Shakespearean Criticism in China

Abstract

Chinese Shakespearean criticism from Marxist perspectives is highly original in Chinese Shakespeare studies. Scholars such as Mao Dun, Yang Hui, Zhao Li, Fang Ping, Yang Zhouhan, Bian Zhilin, Meng Xianqiang, Sun Jiaxiu, Zhang Siyang and Wang Yuanhua adopt the basic principles and methods of Marxism to elaborate on Shakespeare’s works and have made great achievements. With ideas changed in different political climates, they have engaged in Shakespeare studies for over eight decades since the 1930s. At the beginning of the revolutionary age, they advocated revolutionary literature, followed Russian Shakespearean criticism from the Marxist perspective, and established the mode of class analysis and highlighted realism. Before and after the Cultural Revolution, they were concerned about class, reality and people. They also showed the “left-wing” inclination, taking literature as a tool to serve politics. Since the 1980s, they have been free from politics and entered the pure academic realm, analysing Shakespearean dramas with Marxist aesthetic theories and transforming from sociological criticism to literary criticism.

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East Meets West: Identity and Intercultural Discourse in Chinese huaju Shakespeares

Abstract

This article examines two huaju performances of Shakespeare—The Tragedy of Coriolanus (2007) and King Lear (2006), which are good examples of cultural exchanges between East and West, integrating Shakespeare into contemporary Chinese culture and politics. The two works provide distinctive approaches to the issues of identity in intercultural discourse. At the core of both productions lies the fundamental question: “Who am I?” At stake are the artists’ personal and cultural identities as processes of globalisation intensify. These performances not only exemplify the intercultural productivity of Shakespearean texts, but more critically, illustrate how Shakespeare and intercultural discourses are internalized and reconfigured by the nation and culture that consume and re-produce them. Chinese adaptations of Coriolanus and King Lear demonstrate how (intercultural) identity is constructed through the subjectivity and iconicity of Shakespeare’s characters and the performativity of Shakespeare’s texts.

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Hamlet, or about Death: A Romanian Hamlet directed by Vlad Mugur (2001)

Abstract

This essay looks at the 2001 Romanian production of Hamlet directed by Vlad Mugur at the Cluj National Theatre (Romania) from the perspective of geocriticism and spatial literary studies, analysing the stage space opened in front of the audiences. While the bare stage suggests asceticism and alienation, the production distances the twenty-first century audiences from what might have seemed difficult to understand from their postmodern perspectives. The production abbreviates the topic to its bare essence, just as a map condenses space, in the form of “literary cartography” (Tally 20). There is no room in this production for baroque ornaments and theatrical flourishing; instead, the production explores the exposed depth of human existence. The production is an exploration of theatre and art, of what dramatists and directors can do with artful language, of the theatre as an exploration of human experience and potential. It is about the human condition and the artist’s place in the world, about old and new, about life and death, while everything happens on the edge of nothingness. The director’s own death before the opening night of the production ties Shakespeare’s Hamlet with existential issues in an even deeper way than the play itself allows us to expose.

Open access
“I should like to have my name talked of in China”: Charles Lamb, China, and Shakespeare

Abstract

Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare played an essential role in Chinese reception history of Shakespeare. The first two adaptations in China, Xiewai qitan 澥外奇譚and Yinbian yanyu 吟邊燕語, chose Tales as the source text. To figure out why the Lambs’ Tales was received in China even earlier than Shakespeare’s original texts, this paper first focuses on Lamb’s relationship with China. Based on archival materials, it then assumes that the Lambs’ Tales might have had a chance to reach China at the beginning of the nineteenth century through Thomas Manning. Finally, it argues that the decision to first bring Shakespeare to China by Tales was made under the consideration of the Lambs’ writing style, the genre choice, the similarity of the Lambs’ and Chinese audiences, and the marketability of Tales. Tracing back to the first encounter between Tales and China throws considerable light on the reception history of Shakespeare in China. It makes sense that nothing is coincidental in the history of cultural reception and the encounters have always been fundamentally influenced by efforts from both the addresser and the receptor.

Open access
Introduction: Sailing along Intermedial Rivers
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On a Romantic Island: Shakespeare and Mamma mia

Abstract

The paper concerns the blockbuster musical film Mamma mia, loosely using some of Shakespearean patterns, topoi and plots. Set on a small Greek island, idylic and exotic, the film offers a contemporary romantic story with new/reversed roles in terms of gender, parenthood, sexuality, marriage and age, pointing to a different cultural paradigm. While the Shakespearean level is recast, remixed and probably less visible, the priority is given to the utopia of the 1970s and to the question of its outcome and transformation.

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Revisiting the Classics and the New Media Environments: Shakespeare Re-Told by Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Edward St. Aubyn

Abstract

The versatility of the appropriation of Shakespeare in recent years has been witnessed in a variety of registers and media, which range from special effects on the stage, music, cartoons, comics, advertisements, all the way to video games. This contribution looks at some of the novels in the Shakespeare Re-told Hogarth series as effigies of the contemporary process of adapting the Elizabethan plays to the environments in which the potential readers/viewers work, become informed, seek entertainment and adjust themselves culturally, being, ultimately, cognitive schemes which are validated by today’s reception processes. The first novel in the series was Jeanette Winterson’s Gap of Time (2016), in which the Shakespearean reference to the years that separate the two moments of The Winter’s Tale’s plot becomes the title of a video game relying mainly on fantasy. Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (2016) rewrites The Tempest as a parable of the theatrical performance and its avatars, as undisputable authority, on the one hand, and source of subversiveness, on the other. Dunbar (2018) is Edward St. Aubyn’s response to the family saga of King Lear, where kingship, territorial division and military conflict are replaced by modern media wars, and the issues of public exposure in the original text are reinterpreted interpreted by resorting to the impact of the audio-visual on every-day life.

Open access