Playing With Source Materials: Alterations and Shakespeare's Creative Fabric -- NeMLA 2018

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Shakespeare is preeminent among English authors, but, by today's standards, for all of his fame, little is known about Shakespeare the man. This has lead some to create an authorship controversy, though among scholars this is a non-issue as there is ample evidence linking "the man from Stratford" to the London playwright. Stylometry studies have found that Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights collaborated much more than had ever been guessed at, but such findings shed little light on his creative processes. Perhaps the best currently available avenue to gain insight into his creative strategies is by examining what at first glance appears to indicate lack of creativity—his inveterate unabashed "borrowing" of plots, characters, phrases, and more. Such thievery came with little stigma during Elizabethan times and made good business sense. Stories in the public sphere had a following and were already shown to be successful and of interest: "Hamlet, revenge!" Sources (e.g., Holinshed, Plutarch, Boccaccio, the Bible, and more), as well as influential events (e.g., his grammar school education, the death of Hamnet, or the Midland Revolt) have been identified, though new findings are still being uncovered by scholars. How Shakespeare chose to alter his sources provides access to his stagecraft. Two prominent examples are the additions of Gloucester and his sons, and the creation of Falstaff—Oldcastle ridiculed. Besides adding or modifying characters, alterations in language, locale, timing, and more were used to develop plot structure, thus mood or meaning. This seminar seeks papers that shed light on his creative processes by analyzing the effects of the additions, deletions, or modifications between Shakespeare's product and his sources, as well as differing versions of a play, new sources, or historical events.

Please submit abstract proposals of no more than 250 words by September 30, 2017, using the NeMLA link: