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Sh@kespeare in the Media

From the Globe Theatre to the World Wide Web


Edited By Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier and Jörg Helbig

This collection of critical essays and interviews gives an overview of the various kinds of medial manifestations which Shakespeare’s work has been transferred into over the centuries: into a theatrical performance, a printed text, a painting, an opera, an audio book, a film, a radio or television drama, a website. On the whole this overview also provides a history of the general development of Shakespearean media. Practitioners as well as scholars focus on the strengths and weaknesses, the possibilities and limitations of each medium with regard to the representation of Shakespeare’s work.


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Introduction - 7


7 INTRODUCTION Most of us foster a personal image of Shakespeare, however vague it may be in visual terms. Taking the postmodern cult of the visible into consideration, it is not surprising that the visibility of cultural representatives in the media becomes increasingly important. (Cf. Staples 2000) Shakespeare and his characters have a long and ongoing history of visualisation. The film Shakespeare in Love (1998) and the recent BBC mini-series In Search of Shakespeare (2003) are excellent proof for the current desire to reconstruct Shakespeare as a contemporary man as well as a historical figure. The BBC series attempts to "put flesh on the bare bones of Shakespeare's life" (Gardner 2003), foregrounding the heroism of his Catholic dissidence and the romantic aspects of his life and career. The visualisation of a young, attractive poet with inky fingers in Shakespeare in Love also indicates not only the desire for authenticity and universal values and meanings, but also the (erotic) fascination of a heritage loving audience. Creativity, love, and truth are inscribed into and transported by the human body and presented as unmistakably discernible by gazing at it. We initiated this collection of essays and interviews because we are interested in the relationship between the media and the construction of an authentic and meaningful impression, not of Shakespeare as a historical person or nostalgic heritage image, but of "Shakespeare" as a text. This book is concerned with various kinds of medial manifestations, each of which can be regarded as a text with...

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