A Symposium at George Washington University
Conference Report in The Shakespeare Standard by Jason Demeter
FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014
Venue: Gelman Library room 702: International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center
2130 H St NW, Washington, DC 20052
Opening Remarks by Ayanna Thompson and Alexa Huang
10:00AM-12:00PM Methodologies and Media, Part 1 // Chair: Holly Dugan
12:00PM-2:00PM LUNCH BREAK
2:00PM-4:30PM Methodologies and Media, Part 2 // Chair: Patrick Cook
Richard Burt (University of Florida), “'Reading Madness' in the Archive: Shakespeare’s ContagiousCu(n)t”
5:30PM-8:30PM DINNER BANQUET FOR INVITED SPEAKERS
SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 2014
Conference Report in The Shakespeare Standard by Jason Demeter
Venue: Jack Morton Auditorium, School of Media and Public Affairs
805 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052
Intersection of 21st St NW and H St NW
8:45-9:00 AM COFFEE
9:00AM-11:00AM Performing Global Shakespeares // Chair: Jeffrey Cohen
Sujata Iyengar (University of Georgia), “Beds and Handkerchiefs: Moving Objects in International Othellos”
Tom Cartelli (Muhlenberg College), “‘High-Tech Shakespeare in a Mediatized Globe”
Adele Seeff (University of Maryland), “Race, Post-Race, Shakespeare, and South Africa”
11:00AM-11:30AM COFFEE BREAK
1:30-2:30 PM RECEPTION IN HONOR OF JULIE TAYMOR AND HARRY LENNIX. Art Gallery Lobby (2nd Floor, above the auditorium)
Conference Report in The Shakespeare Standard by Jason Demeter
Early Modern Planet Thought
Amanda Bailey (University of Maryland)
Recent productions of Romeo and Juliet set in Iraq, Rwanda, and South Africa have staged the enmity driving the play as an ethnic conflict with geopolitical dimensions. Romeo and Juliet, however, does not leap to mind as a likely candidate for an exploration of global issues. In particular its preoccupation with planetary influence seems out of sync with our postmodern sensibilities. Yet it is the play's investment in the "star crossed," and the early modern habit of thought the phrase references, that makes it an apt vehicle for a politically motivated and globally oriented staging. In the early modern period, astrological imagination provided a way of conceptualizing belonging that connected all human beings across time and space. A belief system based on the invisible interconnectedness of everything, astrological thinking encouraged an empathic awareness of interdependency and a deeply paranoid perspective. Postcolonial scholars have called for imagining ourselves as planetary subjects rather than global agents so as to embrace an inexhaustible taxonomy of interrelation. Yet, as I will show, planetarity predated -- and anticipated -- globalization, and for this reason Romeo and Juliet offers a rich repository of planet-thinking and planet-feeling.
The Past is a Foreign Country: World Musics Signifying History in/and Elizabethan Drama
Kendra Leonard (independent scholar)
Research on global Shakespeare has focused on the ways in which the plays have been adapted for indigenous languages and customs. Less attention has been paid to the ways in which non-British directors have treated the Elizabethan drama. Yet there are a number of works that create direct musical dialogues between Elizabethan drama, history, and the cultures of England’s colonies. In Supple’s 2003 Twelfth Night, Indian music signifies the divide between Viola and Sebastian’s origins and a British Ilyria; a 2006 Danish Ur-Hamlet uses music from former British colonies and a faux-medieval score that serve as “an exchange of cultural manifestations.” And both the BBC’s Virgin Queen (2005) and Kapur’s 2007 Elizabeth: the Golden Age use Indian music to represent the empire’s colonial enterprises. I will examine how these musics function in the context of screen works, and what their use might signify in Elizabethan drama and historical pieces overall.
Comrade Fortinbras and Bourgeois Hamlet: Global Leftist Hamletism
Jeffrey Butcher (George Washington University)
In Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov creates the world of Padukgrad: a dystopian society symbolic of Stalin’s tyrannical regime. In the novel, an obscure scholar proposes an adaptation of Hamlet to be performed at Padukgrad’s state theatre. This adaptation transforms Fortinbras into the hero of the play and presents the tragic fall of Hamlet as secondary. I use Nabokov’s anti-Stalinist appropriation of Shakespeare as a point of departure to legitimize Marxist-Leninist appropriative deployments of Hamlet that precede the taint of Stalin. German, Soviet, and American Leftists alike incorporated Hamlet as a negative prototype—a representation of bourgeois individualism and of uncommitted Leftist sympathizers—into political rhetoric so as to advocate commitment and reform. I argue that global Leftist “Hamletism” not only illustrates a clear (political) distinction between proletarian and popular appropriations of Shakespeare, but also demonstrates a theory crucial to the re-politicization of Shakespeare’s social function today.
Global Shakespeares as Methodology
Alexa Huang (George Washington University)
The idea of global Shakespeares has caught on because of site-specific imaginations involving early modern and modern Globe theatres that aspired to perform the globe. Seeing global Shakespeares as a methodology rather than as appendages of colonialism, as political rhetorics, or as centerpieces in a display of exotic cultures situates us in a postnational space that is defined by fluid cultural locations rather than by nation-states. This framework helps us confront archival silences in the record of globalization, understand the spectral quality of citations of Shakespeare and mobile artworks, and reframe the debate about cultural exchange. Global Shakespeares as a field registers the shifting locus of anxiety between cultural particularity and universality.
"Reading Madness" in the Archive: Shakespeare’s Contagious Cu(n)t
Richard Burt (University of Florida)
After first asking "what is an archive?" and “what does ‘global’ mean?” (as opposed to world as in “Welt Literatur” or Jacques Derrida’s preferred word, “mondialization,” literally French for “worldization”), I frame the archive in relation to biopolitics and “bare life” (Giorgio Agamben's extension of the zone of exceptionas the norm, realized in concentration camps and detention) to include the entire planet. Reading the camp as an archive that comes with its own archive fever, I then reframe biopolitics as planetary biobibliopolitics (paper/less persons; the “sur-vivance,” or living on / living death of a text, the “Uberleben” or afterlife of a translation of a text that never lived). I then consider Shakespeare’s First Folio as a multi-media, audio-visual archive and delivery hit and miss delivery system that sometimes comes with feverish, sometimes friendly fire. Overdosing on Derrida’s Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression and “Plato’s Pharmacy,” I discuss archival effects such as multi-media open and “cut” letters, both in the alphabetic sense and in the sense of so-called material supports of postal letters sent off to be delivered or not, as the case may be. What happens if we go with our delirium, our archive fever when reading Shakespeare as an archive of impressions, and give up the notion that there was ever an originary moment when pen hit paper? What happens if we give up the idea that one medium can be totally translated into another, as digitalization does, according to Friedrich Kittler? My concern is with the audiovisual “anarchivity” of the Folio archive, with the way postal letters in Shakespeare’s works that are never read but only reported on or letters to be read aloud on stage produce unreadable effects that only become readable through various kinds of compulsive delusions. Postal letters in the Folio involves media and linguistic translation in which “reading” or “auditing” them requires one to hallucinate seemingly coherent and comprehensible performances. At stake in the reading and recitation archived in the Folio is whether that archive installs a kind of repetition that is compulsive, a reading drive already destined for self-destruction or initiates a less radically anarchivic and destinerrant reading and recitation of letters that go missing. I focus on three moments in which letters are repeated but not letter by letter, so to speak: Lady Macbeth (5.1.) as writing machine (her unwitnessed, unreported, unread letter) before she turns television broadcaster when sleepwalking); the postal letter reader supplying alphabetic letters that aren’t there, as when in Twelfth Night (5.1.) Malvolio thinks he has identified Olivia’s handwriting by attending to her “c”s, “u”s, and “t”s, (the word “and” is heard as the letter “n”); Olivia’s refusal to allow Feste to “read madness,” that is, read Malvolio's letter to Olivia (Fabian reads it instead); and alphabetic letters in the translation scene (3.4) in Henry V (“foot” misheard as “foutre,” glossed as ejaculate, more often as “fuck”; “la robe” translated as "gown" mispronounced as “coun” (phonetically, “cown”) yet also heard as French for “con,” glossed by editors as "cunt"). I close by considering the Folio’s archiving of reading and translating letters as “open and cut” cases of un/reading that no textual forensics could fully decipher, the Folio audio-visual archive being a pharmacy that goes viral, both deescalating and upping the stakes of the politics of (not) reading as it delivers the delusional hits of phantom referents and fantasies of a theological delivery from the madness of reading, the reading that never drops its payload even when if does occasionally deliver.
Shakespeare's Global Digital Marketplace
Eric Johnson (Folger Shakespeare Library)
In order to evaluate the "global market" for Shakespeare, I will assemble as much data as possible to show which works are being read and researched. This data will be taken from major Shakespeare-related web sites (Open Source Shakespeare, Folger Shakespeare Library sites, and others); book sales; and conference attendance. If possible, these sources will include entertainment figures as well, such as ticket sales.
These statistics will show which works receive the most attention, and will suggest some answers as to why that might be. Data derived from web sites will be particularly important, since it measures actual usage (i.e., a web page request is a verifiable event, whereas a book sale does not guarantee that the book will be read). This data will include web page view counts, as well search data from Open Source Shakespeare (see "Most Searched Keywords" and "Most Searched Works" in http://opensourceshakespeare.org/stats).
This data collection will give an idea of which countries are most interested in Shakespeare, relative to the rest of the world. It will also show which countries are under-represented in the "market," and thus represent potential growth areas for Shakespearean pedagogy and scholarship. This paper will pay particular attention to why developing countries with large English-speaking populations, particularly India, do not seem to make as much use of Shakespearean resources as might be expected.
The Art of Curation: Searching for Global Shakespeares in the Digital Archives
Christy Desmet (University of Georgia)
Scholarly sites are strictly curated, usually by one or two persons with impeccable credentials. By contrast, YouTube, as the quintessential crowd-sourced and user-structured video archive, depends on individual contributions for its raw material, and on a combination of imitation, dialogue, and a complicated computer algorithm to establish relationships among the videos. I want to consider how differences in curation and context between these two kinds of archives might affect the understanding and reception of global Shakespeares. The paper compares cognitive and intellectual strategies brought to bear in the YouTube environment with the more structured methods of curating and providing intellectual paratexts in three sample scholarly archives: Bardbox (now defunct), CASP (Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project); and the Global Shakespeares Video & Performance Archive (MIT).
Beds and Handkerchiefs: Moving Objects in International Othellos
Sujata Iyengar (University of Georgia)
This paper argues that a viewer watching Othello in an unfamiliar language can more narrowly focus upon the life of things in the play and adaptations. Jane Bennett argues in Vibrant Matter for a renewed vital materialism — an emphasis on objects in the world and on attributing agency or actantial ability to them. In Shakespeare’s Othello two objects dominate the play: most obviously, the handkerchief; less obviously, because it is sometimes part of the stage, the bed in which Desdemona is smothered. In this paper I consider the ways in which a South Indian art film, a North Indian “Bollywood” movie and an Italian teen adaptation of Othello permit these objects to act expressively. These adaptations (Kaliyattam; Omkara; Iago) indigenize and transform both the handkerchief and the “tragic loading” of the bed, in the last case turning (or returning) the Shakespearean source from tragedy to comedy.
High-Tech Shakespeare in a Mediatized Globe
Tom Cartelli (Muhlenberg College)
In successive single-set productions of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony & Cleopatra, Ivo van Hove’s The Roman Tragedies transforms the stage into a high-tech version of Shakespeare’s Globe, mimicking how global media stage political debates and generate the simulacrum of war rather than the thing itself. Mixing live actors with video projections displayed on monitors spaced on and above the stage, van Hove encourages spectators to move from one viewing space to another, to order drinks, check email or tweet on desktop computers. Extending Shakespeare’s “all the world’s a stage” conceit to a world connected by “clouds” of information transported on viewless wings and deposited in airy dropboxes, van Hove’s stage is everywhere and nowhere at once, trafficking on the uniform look and feel of the world’s cathected centers of privilege and power. But in designedly conforming to the politics of global media, while suppressing the crowd-sourcing potential of Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, van Hove arguably extends only the illusion of emancipation to spectators distracted by competing demands on their attention.
Race, Post-Race, Shakespeare, and South Africa
Adele Seeff (University of Maryland College Park)
In a newly democratic South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Company commissioned updated re-tellings of Shakespeare’s plays using local settings, vernacular languages, and black actors. They sought local programming that could be projected into a global entertainment market. These stories would help heal a nation’s trauma and provide a broader representation of black South African scriptwriters, directors, and actors speaking African vernacular.
I focus largely on two re-versionings of Macbeth (a King Lear and a Romeo and Juliet were produced) to argue that these made-for-television appropriations are reclamation projects. Each employs different filmic and rhetorical strategies to represent a utopian post-racial world using the once imperial icon, Shakespeare, as a point of access to global audiences. Thoroughly exploiting Shakespeare’s cultural capital, these programs show us that “African” indigeneity and identity are shifting and fluid, and infused with desire; that discourse(s) can be democratized but that hierarchies persist; and that strategies of identity formation remain hostage to apartheid’s continuing afterlife. These Africanized re-versionings surrogate Shakespeare’s text to dramatize and experiment with linguistic, national, and gender identities.
The official hotel for the event is State Plaza Hotel, 2117 E Street N.W. Washington D.C. 20037, tel: 202-861-8200. The hotel is located on campus and within easy walking distance from the metro station "Foggy Bottom / GWU" and from the event venues.
Foggy Bottom Campus Public Transportation Options:
George Washington University's Foggy Bottom campus is centrally located three blocks from the White House. The Foggy Bottom GWU Metro Stop, located on the Blue and Orange Lines, is right on our Foggy Bottom Campus at 21st and I Streets, NW.
Click on the following Metro map for a full map of the DC Metro system:
Venue for Friday January 24, 2014: Gelman Library 7th floor Room 701
Venue for Saturday January 25, 2014: School of Media and Public Affairs Jack Morton Auditorium (first floor)
One block from the Foggy Bottom/GWU metro station and across the street from the Whole Food's and GW Hospital.
Parking on campus is currently a challenge due to ongoing construction, so we strongly encourage the use of public transportation. If you choose to drive to GW, a limited number of visitor parking spaces is available in --
The parking fee is $18 per day or for a portion of the day (subject to change). On-campus street parking is available, but it is also limited and time limits are strictly enforced.
A few public parking garages (not run by GW) are also available nearby. Click here for a detailed map.
Hotels on or near the GW Foggy Bottom Campus (all within walking distance)
George Washington University Inn
Courtyard Washington, DC/Foggy Bottom
515 20th Street NW · Washington, DC 20006; tel: 202-296-5700
One Washington Circle Hotel
State Plaza Hotel
DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel
Renaissance Washington DC (Dupont Circle)
Best Western Georgetown
The River Inn
Washington Suites Georgetown
Fairmont Washington, D.C.
Click on the following map for details:
More options here: http://www.gwu.edu/explore/visitingcampus/lodgingdining
Note: Rosslyn (Arlington, VA)--across the river--has some great hotels at affordable rates, and it is only one stop from Foggy Bottom-GWU by metro (and these hotels are next to the Rosslyn metro)
Options include: Hyatt, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hotel Palomer, Best Western, Residence Inn, Courtyard, and more.
Emily Russell, Graduate Assistant to the Digital Humanities Institute (until January 2014)
M. Bychowski, Graduate Assistant to the Digital Humanities Institute (starting January 2014)
Haylie Swenson, Graduate Assistant to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (throughout 2013-2014)