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East-West Dialogues: The Transferability of Concepts in the Humanities

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Edited By Christoph Bode, Michael O'Sullivan, Lukas Schepp and Eli Park Sorensen

This is an edited collection of essays drawn from collaborative events organized jointly by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The book focuses on how literary and cultural perspectives from different humanities academic environs in Asia and Europe might contribute to our understanding of the "transferability of concepts." Exploring ways in which these traditions may enter into new and productive collaborations, the book presents readings of a wide range of Western and Eastern writers, including Shakespeare, J.M. Coetzee, Yu Dafu. The book contains a virtual round table followed by four thematic sections – "Travels and Storytelling," "Translation and Transferability," "Historical Contexts and Transferability," and "Aesthetic Contexts and Transferability."

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Chapter 3: The Tragedy of Errors? East-West Migrations in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and Our Own Time: Reto Winckler

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Reto Winckler

The Tragedy of Errors? East-West Migrationsin Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and OurOwn Time

In this essay, I revisit William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors in light of the so-called European migrant crisis which began to unfold in 2015. Because of its strong farcical bent, Shakespeare’s early play has often been dismissed as superficial and silly. In this chapter I will argue that the Comedy of Errors deserves a more prominent position in the consideration of migration issues in Shakespeare than it has usually been afforded by critics, because it contains a profound meditation on the problems raised by the existence of borders and the people who cross them. The chapter contributes to the ongoing project of the critical rehabilitation of the Comedy of Errors as an important play in the Shakespeare canon (cf. Miola; Van Elk; Winckler), as well as to efforts to make Shakespeare’s plays relevant in the context of the current, renewed urgency of migration issues (cf. Kingsley-Smith; Schülting; Espinosa and Ruiter). In the concluding section, I consider if and how the ways of dealing with strangers explored in the play can be useful in approaching the contemporary crisis.

William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is a farce framed by a romance quest. In line with the pervasive doubling which structures the play as a whole, the Comedy begins with the arrival of not one but two questers in Ephesus: Egeon, the father, and Antipholus of Syracuse, the son....

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