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Introduction

Creating Shakespeare

Graham Holderness

Though it may seem perverse – Shakespeare being synonymous with creativity itself – to speak of ‘creating’ that which is already so manifestly and abundantly created, Shakespeare criticism and scholarship is tending increasingly towards the view that every act of scholarly reproduction, critical interpretation, theatrical performance, stage and screen adaptation, or fictional appropriation produces a new and hitherto unconceived Shakespeare. This volume presents discursive evidence to support this hypothesis in relation to the fields of transcultural reproduction, screen adaptation, theatrical improvisation and fictional re-writing.

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The Seeds of Time

Graham Holderness

Underpinned by a cultural materialist study of the presence of Shakespeare in a series of great national festivals – the great Exhibition of 1851, the Festival of Britain in 1951, and the London Olympics of 2012 – this story uses imaginative methods to pursue a critical inquiry, combining documentary evidence and critical argument with imaginative speculation. To study Shakespeare diachronically through a time-line of national commemorations, the kind of work featured in Critical Survey 22, 2 (2010), Shakespeare and the Cultures of Commemoration, is analogous to travelling in time. Here Wells’s Time Traveller, scientist, engineer, and devotee of progress, returns to the past in search of Shakespeare, and finds in the Great Exhibition a Shakespeare surprisingly assimilated to the priorities of mechanical engineering and industrial design. Shuttling forward to 1951, he discovers similar evidence, including a steam locomotive named William Shakespeare. Inadvertently coming across the London Olympics in 2012 (by carelessly setting his GPS navigation system to ‘Stratford’), the Time Traveller encounters lines from The Tempest spoken by an impersonation of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In this story historical, critical and scholarly questions are explored imaginatively in fictional form. For a critical account of the same material, see Graham Holderness, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, in Celebrating Shakespeare: Commemoration and Cultural Memory, edited by Clara Calvo and Coppelia Kahn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

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'An Arabian in My Room'

Shakespeare and the Canon

Graham Holderness

The literary canon is commonly thought of as ancient, accepted and agreed, and consistent between high and popular cultures. This article demonstrates the falsity of these assumptions, and argues that the canon is always provisional, contingent, iterable and overdetermined by multiple consequences of cultural struggle. Using definitions of canonicity from Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode and Pierre Bourdieu, the article shows how the canon is produced, consumed and reproduced. Picking up on Harold Bloom's use of a poem by Wallace Stevens, the article explores the impact of Arabic adaptations of Shakespeare on canon formation and canonicity.

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'Thirty Year Ago'

The Complex Legacy of Political Shakespeare

Graham Holderness

This article was delivered in the plenary session of the Shakespeare Association of America's annual meeting in St Louis, April 2014, alongside papers from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Dollimore, also for the first time published in this volume. The purpose of the panel was to commemorate and celebrate two important critical texts whose anniversaries fell at that time: Jonathan Dollimore's Radical Tragedy, published in 1984, and Political Shakespeare (1985), edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, which went into its second edition in 1994. This article discusses the impact and influence of Political Shakespeare, to which I was a contributor.

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Shakespeare and Perception

Graham Holderness

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla (New York: Random House, 2009).

Laurie Johnson, John Sutton, and Evelyn Tribble, eds, Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre (London: Routledge, 2014).

Jacques Ranciere, trans. Gabriel Rockhill, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Bloomsbury, 2004).

David Hillman, Shakespeare’s Entrails: Belief, Scepticism and the Interior of the Body (London: Palgrave, 2007).

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Review

The Demonic: Literature and Experience

Graham Holderness

The Demonic: Literature and Experience by Ewan Fernie, foreword by Jonathan Dollimore (Routledge, 2013), xxiii + 312 pp.

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Editorial

Graham Holderness

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Editorial Afterword

Graham Holderness

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Editorial

Graham Holderness

This general issue of Critical Survey ranges from mediaeval to modern literature and drama.

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Editorial

Graham Holderness

Shakespeare's interest in ancient Rome spans the whole of his dramatic career, from Titus Andronicus to Cymbeline, while Roman history and Latin culture permeate the whole of his work, well beyond the explicitly ‘Roman’ plays and poems. Critical interest has to some extent shifted from the historicist Roman plays based on Plutarch, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, and the pseudo-historical Coriolanus, to the outlying Roman plays that evidence greater generic diversity and stylistic innovation, the early Senecan tragedy Titus Andronicus and the late ‘British’ romance Cymbeline. In these latter plays, the complex interactions between past and present, that are the main subject of the formal histories, are presented with even more aesthetic flexibility and creative improvisation than the ‘Roman plays’ proper.