• Variable Objects Introduction - Bound in A Nutshell: Shakespeare's Vibrant Matter

    Valerie Fazel, Louise Geddes (see profile)
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, Ontologies (Information retrieval), Object-oriented methods (Computer science), Literature--Adaptations, Criticism and interpretation, History
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Shakespeare, Object-oriented ontology, Appropriation, Shakespeare in adaptation, History of Shakespearean criticism, Adaptation, Thing theory
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    When Ben Jonson summons Shakespeare in his famous poem, “To The Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare,” and assures the late dramatist that he is “alive still while thy book doth live / And we have wits to read and praise to give,” Jonson affirms an authorial presence typical of the humanist approach to Shakespeare. More tantalizingly, however, Jonson invites us to think of the book as a living object, implying that the book has its own vitality and, by extension, as much agency as the very human WIlliam Shakespeare. This essay suggests the transmedial and transcultural history of Shakespeare combats the commonly-held assumption that there is a causal logic to appropriative acts, and seeks alternative ways to account for the logical networks that shape the way Shakespeare appears - seemingly unexpected - in a variety of objects as fragments - words, ideas, characters, scenes, poetry, narrative, and so much more. The introduction looks to new materialism, object-oriented ontology, and alien phenomenology to explore the consequences of reconceptualizing Shakespeare as composed of an infinite variety of discrete objects and suggest that these fragments activate a variable and unpredictable energy that fluctuates as they encounter other objects. Without the ordering presence of the author, fragments of Shakespeare’s work become agental objects, vibrant and dynamic, affective forces that spur a spectrum of appropriative uses. New materialism suggests that objects emanate their own intrinsic meaning, and accordingly, Shakespeare fragments upend theories that the driving force of the appropriation is the human user.
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    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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