Gender-Switching and Queer Opportunities in Web-Native Shakespeare
This seminar will explore the interpretive possibilities generated by queer and gender-switched casting in web series and other digitally-native media adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. By shifting the means of production and distribution beyond traditional mainstream media channels, new digital platforms like YouTube, Tumblr, and Netflix offer a creative process through which more people can adapt Shakespeare in their own image. So, too, can queer and gender-switched characters manifest the application of theoretical approaches like queer theory, girls’ studies, and disability studies to Shakespeare’s work. Amateur web series such as A Document of Madness and Hamlet the Dame, for example, prominently feature gender-switched, trans, and queered interpretations of characters from Hamlet. We seek seminar contributions that consider the intersection of Shakespearean adaptation in web-native media (broadly construed) with various approaches to adaptation and popular culture. How does amplifying girl and/or queer voices in Shakespearean adaptation shift the interpretive possibilities in a particular play? Is gender-switching always queer? How might looking at web-native productions help us understand the history of Shakespeare on Screen, especially those productions that assimilated or actively erased the presence of girls, women, and queer artists? How might digital media address the challenges faced by women and nonbinary performers, for whom traditional Shakespearean theatrical productions provide very few roles? Do amateur Shakespearean web series exist within Michael Wesch’s notion of “context collapse,” or does Shakespeare’s author function—manifest in theatrical, cinematic, or pedagogical iterations—fundamentally shape the way these web series are consumed and appreciated?
We are particularly interested in contributions (3,000-5,000 words) that identify intersectional theoretical approaches to representations of gender, sexualities, race, ethnicity, age, and ability within existing digital media, or pedagogical methods for engaging with these questions in the Shakespeare classroom.
We invite contributors to send their abstracts (300 words) and biographical notices (200 words) to the seminar leaders by September 30th, 2018.