Shakespeare and Adaptation
Shakespeare plundered the writings of his predecessors for material, and his plays have, in their turn, formed the basis for all kinds of adaptations, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We will look at what it means to take adaptation seriously as a mode of authorship, examining particularly how this might inform our readings of feminist and postcolonial adaptations of Shakespeare. We’ll also look closely at problems of artistic medium, including film adaptations and digital media, word and image, page and stage, etc. What happens at moments of suspension or translation from one medium to another, or when several different sensory or communicative channels are compounded? While we will take up many overlapping critical and aesthetic problems, our discussion of postcolonial issues will most likely focus on Caribbean adaptations of The Tempest and on recent South African and Indian revisions of Macbeth, while debate over feminist adaptations and issues of gender will center on rewritings of The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, and Othello, including the work of Jane Smiley and Paula Vogel. During the course of the term we will also look at stage history, paintings and engravings of scenes from Shakespeare, graphic novels, and adaptations designed for children. Students from various departments and programs are welcome: you will be able to write the term paper on a topic closely related to your field of interest.
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