The Feb. 15 “Remixing Shakespeare” Communications Forum looked at how interpretations of Shakespeare reflect and are reflected by contemporary culture. The “home team” panel, as host Henry Jenkins described them, consisted entirely of MIT Literature faculty: Diana Henderson and Peter Donaldson presented while Mary Fuller moderated.
Henderson’s talk focused on different versions of Shakespeare throughout time, spanning from The Restoration version of Nauhm Tate’s King Lear and its happy ending to Campbell Scott’s horror-film influenced retelling of Hamlet. Henderson explained “how the remix shows you a reflection of the culture at large” and emphasized that this urge is not new to digital culture. Reinterpretation and remixing is what keeps Shakespeare’s works relevant and alive over time.
Donaldson brought the discussion online with his presentation of Michael Almereyda’s 2000 film version of Hamlet. In this film, Donaldson finds a predecessor of collaborative culture with “characters now contributing to the remixing” within the movie. A pastiche of video diary, multi-layered meanings communicated through audio, visual, and referential metaphor, the film uses media to evoke new meanings unavailable to the text or performance versions.
Donaldson showed some Shakespeare-influenced YouTube videos and touched on some upcoming research ideas regarding collaborative authorship, sampling, and of course, remix.
This forum is available for download as part of the CMS Podcast.