Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shakespeare After Mass Media (2002)

Editor Richard Burt opens with an introduction that’s so moddish academic that if it’s not a parody (and there’s no indication of tongues anywhere near cheeks) then I almost didn’t want to go any further. And that title: “after mass media”?

But there’s some good work here and it’s just easiest to go down the list. Most of this is at its best doing real archive work rather than criticism which is nice to see since that’s almost been overwhelmed by a tendency toward analysis unfettered by any facts. (Somebody just finishing their doctoral dissertation in film told me that he met with resistance because it was based on a lot of primary research.)

Donald K. Hecrick – Covers some uses of Shakespeare in business books and a few other consumer items. Mildly interesting.

Peter S. Donaldson – Good close reading of Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet adaptation.

Mark Thornton Burnett – Decent overview of Branagh’s career weighted down by smugness despite this having almost nothing beyond that overview. As he says “arguing that they can only properly be understood when discussed as a corpus”. Ah, so Mr. Burnett has the only proper key to understanding so if you connected in any way to these films then you’re wrong, wrong he tells you.

Diane E. Henderson – Shakespearean tourist recreations, obvious and really only has a page or two worth of material.

Laurie E. Osborne – Shakespeare in Harlequin etc romances. One of the best pieces here even if there’s little “real” use made of Shakespeare this does probe at some real pop cultural elements.

Josh Heuman & Richard Burt – Shakespeare in comics. Good overview.

Craig Dionne – Shakespeare in Star Trek. Solid.

Douglas Lanier – Shakespeare in American radio. Another outstanding piece.

Fran Teague – Shakespeare musicals. Another good overview.

Stephen M. Buhler – Romeo and Juliet in pop songs. Merely a survey with nothing of interest backing it up.

DJ Hopkins & Bryan Reynolds – Somewhat turgid essay about a Robert Wilson deconstruction of Hamlet. Also seems like a parody of academia at times.

Helen M. Whall – Shakespeare quotations in Bartlett’s. Interesting and admirably short.

Richard Burt – The editor closes with a piece about Taymor’s Titus and other adaptations that starts off badly (somebody please let him know that puns in this context are more embarassing than any kind of linguistic short circuiting) but pulls together towards the end. Maybe he should read more Mencken or Edmund Wilson.