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Canon Fodder and Conscripted Genres

The Hogarth Project and the Modern Shakespeare Novel

Laurie E. Osborne


The Hogarth Shakespeare novels bring into focus several features emerging in the encounter between Shakespeare and fiction writing. Hogarth's ostensibly ‘new’ version of serial Shakespearean publication intersects in provocative ways with both historical adaptations, like Mary Cowden Clarke's Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, and with current, less high-profile Shakespearean novels. In the context of current serial adaptations, the Hogarth novels foreground Shakespeare as a principle of collectivity, a gesture towards coherence in works whose larger alliances reside in genre or authorship. Hogarth's Shakespearean frame also draws attention to new adaptive choices which expand but perhaps dilute Shakespeare as a useful collective canon. As a result, the series both contributes to and emphasises Shakespeare's participation in the three zones of cultural capital: our individual and collective artistic investment in series, culturally provoked shifts in adaptive choice, and evolving genres that increasingly test former lines between literary and genre fiction.