Alexa Alice Joubin deposited “What makes Global Shakespeares an exercise in ethics?” Global Shakespeare and Social Justice: Towards a Transformative Encounter, ed. Chris Thurman and Sandra Young (Bloomsbury, 2023), pp. 58-77. in the group CLCS Renaissance and Early Modern on MLA Commons 4 months, 2 weeks ago
Stage and screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays raise ethical questions – that is, questions about how human beings should act and treat one another. In which contexts might cross-cultural enterprises be naturalising the values associated with Shakespeare to exploit unequal power relations among artists of different backgrounds? Conversely, to what end are artists using the brand of Shakespeare? How do festival organizers tap into the ideological purchase of being ‘global’ (which means being connected to several locations) by inviting productions that feature diverse casts and cultural references? These are just some of the questions driving critical engagements with Shakespearean adaptations from the past five decades. On one hand, the reception history of such works reveals the self-proclaimed and imposed ethical burden that cross-cultural works carry. On the other hand, there are tensions between contemporary and early modern ethics. This chapter argues that the dialogues between Shakespeare and his modern interlocutors are driven by ethical claims and the use of Shakespeare for social justice or political expediency.