Early registration deadline for World Shakespeare Congress

Prague! Shakespeare!  Tuesday is your last chance for discounted early registration at the World Shakespeare Congress, to be held July 18-22.

Rafik Darragi and I are co-organizing what promises to be a small and interesting seminar on “Shakespeare on the Arab Stage.”  Scheduled for the last afternoon of the conference, so if the discussion gets really exciting we can adjourn directly to the pub.  Stalkers and gawkers welcome!  Download the draft program here: http://www.shakespeare2011.net/repository/doc/shakespeare2011-prague-congress-programme-matrix.pdf


Daily Star covers our Shakespeare conference at AUB

Under the nice headline “Was Shakespeare an Orientalist?” Beirut’s Daily Star covers  our just-concluded conference on “Shakespeare’s Imagined Orient” at AUB.  Splendidly organized by Francois-Xavier Gleyzon of AUB’s English department, the conference staged a conversation some of the most important scholars working to remap Shakespeare’s relationship to the Muslim world.  Five men were at the center of this conversation: Jerry Brotton, Dan Vitkus, Gerald Maclean, Jonathan Burton, and Gil Harris.  My talk was really marginal to the whole thing (I’m not an early modernist), but for obvious journalistic reasons (even if she is not Arab, her readers are), the Daily Star reporter seized on it.  She thus ironically supported Ferial Ghazoul’s thesis (in “The Arabization of Othello“), which my talk was trying to problematize: the idea that when Arabs look at Shakespeare, “their point of view” (many Arabs, one point of view) leads them to an immediate and almost exclusive focus on the representation of people like themselves.  Well, perhaps such narcissism is only human. Which of us can pick up a friend’s book without looking up our own name in the index?

Call for Papers – Arab Shakespeare in Prague, July 2011

Rafik Darragi and I are co-convening this seminar at the next WSC. Co-conspirators welcome. Prague should be lovely… Please send a 250-word abstract by August 1, 2009 to mlitvin@bu.edu.
9th World Shakespeare Congress
Prague, July 17-21, 2011

Seminar: Shakespeare on the Arab Stage

In many Arab countries, top directors and playwrights have appropriated Shakespearean characters and/or plots to produce original theatrical works. Their plays range from parody and pastiche to metatheatrical reflection, political satire, and even tragedy. Such work is now gaining prominence in the West as well as in the Arab world. For instance, an Iraqi dramatist’s adaptation of Hamlet received a rehearsed reading at the 8th World Shakespeare Congress in 2006. The same year, an “Arab” version of Richard III was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, later touring to several European countries and the United States.
Building on the enthusiasm and questions sparked by the Arab Shakespeare panel at the previous World Shakespere Congress (Brisbane, 2006), this seminar will explore the diverse dramatic adaptations of Shakespeare that have flourished in the Arab world in recent years. Participants are invited to:

  • Analyze one or more Arab/ic productions or adaptations of Shakespeare plays (19th- or 20th-century or contemporary).
  • Consider the production and/or reception contexts of one or more Arab/ic Shakespeare appropriations.
  • Contribute to a discussion that aims to develop a typology or map of Arab Shakespeare appropriation more broadly. Given the perfectly naturalized status of Shakespeare’s plays in some Arab theatre cultures and their “foreigner” status in others, what generalizations about “Arab” Shakespeare should be made or avoided?
  • Help pinpoint some relevant paradigms for theorizing this young but growing sub-field of Shakespeare studies. In particular: is “intercultural appropriation” a fruitful theoretical approach at all?

Until recently, scholars of “worldwide Shakespeare appropriation” have known little about such work. For decades, the Arab world went largely unnoticed in the numerous edited volumes on “intercultural” or “foreign” Shakespeare; Arab scholars at international Shakespeare conferences were a rare sight. When scholars in the West did bring “Arab Shakespeare” to their colleagues’ attention, they presented it almost as a novelty. (Sometimes they did not hesitate to draw easy laughs by invoking the old joke that Shakespeare was really a crypto-Arab, “Shaykh Zubayr.”) Only in the past few years has this situation begun to change, with well-received studies on and productions of Arabic Shakespeare-related plays. This seminar will celebrate that change and build on it, asking what the study of Arab Shakespeare can bring to the study of international Shakespeare appropriation more broadly.