International Responses to Shakespeare in the Collections of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Lead Research Organisation: Birmingham City University
Department Name: ADM Sch of English


To be 'international' is to be among but also between nations. This project will explore the internationalisation of Shakespeare as a series of interactions that are not limited by geographical, cultural, and chronological divides to make something truly 'between'. I see this project as an opportunity to capture and curate the 'betweenness' of Shakespeare's cultural and political currency as interactions and exchanges manifested in cultural artefacts. My analysis will question the meeting point between Shakespeare and the (cultural) production of the item: what elements of Shakespeare (in general, or his work) represents or instigates the 'between' that appeals to, relates to, or raises questions within that culture at the time of the item's production. Furthermore, I will query what impact the interaction has Shakespeare: what new meanings and fresh interpretations spring from the interaction and go on to inspire and engender more again. Thus the 'between' is the fertile ground that propagates both meaning and continued international interest in Shakespeare.
The findings of the academic study of the betweenness and political/cultural currency of Shakespeare will be rendered on a map within an open-access, blog-linked, searchable web program. Users will be able to click to see the full history of the interactions with each specific culture, which will be linked and searchable by date, country, play, poem, artefact type, and potentially by socio-political event. This will result in a comprehensive digital archive which will open up the international collection to researchers, enthusiasts and the public. Through the innovation and comprehensiveness of the interface, the Birthplace will be reinstalled as the natural repository for research and artefacts of this type by exposing and expanding its outreach and inviting future interactions as part of a future collecting strategy. Furthermore, in encouraging contributions by international contributors it will make a purposeful step towards freeing Shakespeare studies from the limitations of ethnocentrism. In the present time of not only cultural and religious conflict, but also declining acknowledgment of the importance of literature, this project, in emphasising Shakespeare as a medium for better understanding ourselves as a global community - by celebrating the 'between' - could be infinitely valuable.
Narrative historicism will empower the archive to tell its own story as part of a consolidated methodology that implements order through the internal narrative of the collection, as opposed to imposing order upon the collection from the outside, as is the norm in much curatorial as well as scholarly practice. I would also employ critical discourse analysis and digital humanities method/ologies with which I am conversant through my current MRes studies. My suitability for this role as a cultural archaeologist and curator lies not only in my creativity and credentials, but my curiosity about stories that have not yet been told. Being led by curiosity, rather than expectation or agenda, should 'free' unknown historical and cross-cultural narratives, and insure against colonization of the collection.


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