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    Uploading Hamlet: Agency, Convergence and YouTube Shakespeare

    O'Neill, Stephen (2011) Uploading Hamlet: Agency, Convergence and YouTube Shakespeare. Anglistica AION : an Interdisciplinary Journal, 15 (2). pp. 63-75. ISSN 2035-8504

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    “To Tube or not to Tube, that is the question?”, or so asks YouTube user Xelanderthomas in his upload, modifying that most instantly recognizable of Shakespearean lines to address and defend online expression and vlog (video blog) especially. “Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of asinine comments | Or to take arms against a sea of idiots | And, by posting, end them”. There is a long history to the expropriation of Hamlet’s words. “Shakespeare sampled, Shakespeare quoted without quotation marks”, as Marjorie Garber reminds us, “has become the lingua franca of modern cultural exchange”. But our exchange with Shakespeare is increasingly experienced in and through a fluid mediascape, a mediascape that includes YouTube, the most popular videosharing platform on the web. Most students or teachers of Shakespeare will be familiar with the Shakespeare film or theatre production reappearing in clip form on YouTube. Accessing Shakespeare through such a platform might be construed as “Shakespeare-lite”, with the plays condensed to short clips, quite literally minimized by the YouTube screen, or set alongside humorous, often-ridiculous content. “What would Hamlet look like if it were performed by cats?” Cue Hamlet performed by animated talking cat-heads. This is typical of the YouTube video: “easy to get, in both senses of the word: simple-to-understand – an idea reduced to an icon or gag – while also effortless to get to: one click! … Understandable in a heartbeat, knowable without thinking, this is media already encrusted with social meaning or feeling”. This upload has over 2.9 million views, relatively small in comparison to the 1 billion view counts for pop stars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, but a significant view count nonetheless.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Uploading Hamlet; Agency; Convergence; YouTube; Shakespeare;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies
    Item ID: 6176
    Depositing User: Stephen O'Neill
    Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2015 13:32
    Journal or Publication Title: Anglistica AION : an Interdisciplinary Journal
    Publisher: Università degli Studi di Napoli 'L'Orientale'
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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