“The Ninth World Shakespeare Congress in Prague will mark the next phase in a journey through four continents. Beginning in Vancouver, this international conference has travelled every five years since 1971 to share Shakespearean scholarship, performance, and pedagogy at another great site: Washington D.C., Stratford-upon-Avon, Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Valencia and Brisbane. The culturally rich city of Prague, a new setting for the Congress in central Europe, offers a wonderful opportunity to engage in dialogue about Shakespearean reception both here and throughout the world.”
Prof. Richard Wilson from Cardiff University will be co-organising a seminar on Global Shakespeare:
22. Global Shakespeare
Richard Wilson (University of Cardiff, UK)
José Manuel González (University of Alicante, Spain)
The 2011 World Shakespeare Congress in Prague provides an apt opportunity to reconsider the implications of the name Shakespeare gave his own theatre. The 400th anniversary of the first recorded performance of The Tempest also offers an appropriate occasion to examine the ways in which Shakespeare’s plays and poems engage with an emerging global economy. His wordplay on “the great globe itself” suggests that Shakespeare was fully conscious of the potential of “this under globe” as a model for this first global moment of international and multilateral exchange, and intended his own writing to “compass the globe”. Yet his texts are haunted by anxieties about “th’affrighted globe” and “this distracted globe” that hint at awareness of the limitations of a “globe of sinful continents”. So, to what extent was Shakespeare invoking a world culture when he called his playhouse the Globe? What were the assumptions “hid behind the globe” when Shakespeare named his stage? After 400 years of translation and reproduction in “states unborn, and accents” then unknown, what are the limits to Shakespearean universality? How does the process of transformation of local or regional phenomena into global ones and the reduction and removal of barriers between national borders affect the appropriations and adaptations of Shakespeare to the different cultures and spaces? And how do we read and see Shakespeare texts as they travel across time to different places, especially in relation to the seminar transnational focus?
“Global Shakespeare” will aim to revisit these questions in the light of Jacques Derrida’s comment that these works offer a virtual ideal for a global community: “Here the example of Shakespeare is magnificent. Who demonstrates better that texts loaded with history offer themselves so well in contexts very different from their time and place of origin, not only in the European twentieth century, but in Japanese or Chinese transpositions?” But Derrida then asked, “Is it possible to gather under a single roof the apparently disordered plurivocity” of the world’s Shakespeare reproductions: “Is it possible to find a rule of cohabitation, it being understood this house will always be haunted by the meaning of the original?” Between these theoretical parameters, “Global Shakespeare” will therefore also aim to reflect on the tension between historicist and reception-based criticism in contemporary Shakespeare studies, and the extent of what Robert Weimann has called Shakespeare’s “commodious thresholds”.
Possible themes to be explored therefore include universality, translation, toleration, hospitality, trans-national performance, multinational cinematic adaptations, protectionism, cultural taboos, religious fundamentalism, the global dispersal of the playwright’s work via the internet, the imaginative and intellectual construct of “the great globe itself”, and the collapse of the global and the local into the “glocal”.
“Global Shakespeare” invites participants to address these topics or other issues relating to Shakespeare and globalization. The seminar would be initially based upon circulated research papers, but which would also introduce significant texts to enable a full discussion of the ways in which ‘Global Shakespeare’ is experienced and produced.