• Sujata Iyengar deposited Upcycling Shakespeare: Crafting Cultural Capital in the group Group logo of LLC ShakespeareLLC Shakespeare on MLA Commons 1 year, 2 months ago

    In this paper I argue that the flowering of adaptation and appropriation surrounding Shakespeare indicate not a holy “bard” who is the apotheosis of Western culture but an ambiguous Shakespeare who provides a creative space for artisans and artists (among whom, I will suggest, we can include critics and scholars). Having identified a “Shakescrafting” movement within the online crafting and “DIY” communities on etsy.com, I suggest that the numinous status of the brand “Shakespeare” enables both academic knowledge-workers and artisans to create original work or products that they market themselves directly to consumers. I then investigate Shakescrafts derived not only from Shakespearean text but also those fabricated from Shakespeare books—codices that, like the author they contain, serve as both waste matter ready to be rescued from a recycling bin by a canny crypto-capitalist crafter, and as emblems of high or elite culture. In an era of expanding digital publishing, both the production and the reading of printed books take on the status of craft – the completion of a material or bodily process through a series of learned, skilled, and sensual tasks, tasks seen by the dominant culture as the belated and nostalgic endeavor of “amateurs” or for love. I conclude with some reflections on the academic job-market and with my contention that we should consider literary criticism, like carpentry or doctoring or code-writing, as craft rather than as either techne or as knowledge-work.