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    ‘It’s William back from the dead’: Commemoration, Representation and Race in Akala’s Hip-Hop Shakespeare

    O'Neill, Stephen (2016) ‘It’s William back from the dead’: Commemoration, Representation and Race in Akala’s Hip-Hop Shakespeare. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 16 (2). pp. 246-256. ISSN 1473-8481

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    Recent work oriented towards race in Shakespeare studies has involved calls not just for critical attention to race as an ever -­‐‑ present, constitutive element of Shakespeare but also for modes of scholarship and criticism that actively promote critical race studies, diversity and inclusivity within the field . In her extraordinarily reflective study of race, Shakespeare and contemporary America, Ayanna Thompson describes her work ‘ as a n act of intervention and activism ’ ( 2011 : 128) . Thompson urges the various constituencies of the book’s audience, including teachers, theatre practitioners and community activists to facilitate discussions about race both in and through Shakespeare , which she argues might be at its most valuable where it is destabilized or regarded as an ongoing process . Thompson’s call is echoed by Ruben Espinosa (2016), who showcases the important work within the field around race and diversity, yet also suggests that su ch work remains marginalized within the broader currents of the Shakespeare academy . F or Espinosa, writing five years after Thompson’s influential work, all of us invested in Shakespeare continue to have a material role to play in realizing greater diversity : ‘ our field’s commitment to uncovering and discussing social and racial inequalities – in the world of Shakespeare and in our own – through race and ethnic studies should compel us to engender an atmosphere of inclusivity when it comes to our fie ld, one that encourages future scholars to challenge the perceived delineation of Shakespeare’s meaning ’ ( 2016: 62). In this year of the Shakespeare quatercentenary, such ethical commitments to a diversified Shakespeare seem especially salutary . Writing in the Shakespeare Association of America’s special commemorative publication , Ian Smith argues that ‘ speaking about race within the discipline, requires unpacking one’s white positioning, which includes making whiteness visible and an object for critical interrogation ; checking privilege; and exposing the denials and misinterpretations that, too often, keep race a minority issue and race studies a faddish or questionable enterprise in the era of so -­‐‑ called postracial enlightenment ’ ( 2016: 121). A s we variou sly commemorate, celebrate and reflect on Shakespeare as a legacy, as a value and as a potentiality, we also have the opportunity to ensure that it i s an open, plural Shakespeare that endures, one full of what Kathryn Schwarz calls ‘fugitive propositions’ (2016: 18) .

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: race; Shakespeare; hip-hop; Akala;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > Media Studies
    Item ID: 8899
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Stephen O'Neill
    Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2017 09:34
    Journal or Publication Title: Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
    Publisher: Wiley
    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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