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Appropriating Shakespeare

A Cultural History of Pyramus and Thisbe

Louise Geddes

Appropriating Shakespeare: A Cultural History of Pyramus and Thisbe argues that the vibrant, transformative history of Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play from A Midsummer Night’s Dream across four centuries allows us to see the way in which Shakespeare is used to both create and critique emergent cultural trends. Because of its careful distinction between “good” and “bad” art, Pyramus and Thisbe’s playful meditation on the foolishness of over-reaching theatrical ambition is repeatedly appropriated by artists seeking to parody contemporary aesthetics, resulting in an ongoing assessment of Shakespeare’s value to the time. Beginning with the play’s own creation as an appropriation of Ovid, designed to keep the rowdy clown in check, Appropriating Shakespeare is a wide-ranging study that charts Pyramus and Thisbe’s own metamorphosis through opera, novel, television, and, of course, theatre. This unique history illustrates Pyramus and Thisbe’s ability to attract like-minded, experimental, genre-bending artists who use the text as a means of exploring the value of their own individual craft. Ultimately, what this history reveals is that, in excerpt, Pyramus and Thisbe affirms the place of artist as both consumer and producer of Shakespeare. « less more »
University Press Copublishing Division / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Pages: 154Size: 6 x 9
978-1-68393-044-0 • Hardback • April 2017 • $85.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-68393-045-7 • eBook • April 2017 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
Louise Geddes is assistant professor of English at Adelphi University.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: “You may do it extempore”
1 Performance as Appropriation: Bottom, Celebrity, and the Early Modern Clown
2 “The Taste of the Present Times”: Challenging Parody in the Eighteenth Century
3 “I have a passion for good prose”: Transmedial Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century
4 “Know that I, one Ringo the Drummer Am”: Mass Media and the Authenticity of Subculture
5 As We Like It: Transcultural Shakespeares in the Twenty-first Century
Epilogue: “It must be your imagination, then”
About the Author