• Copyright, Copyleft, and Shakespeare After Shakespeare

    Sujata Iyengar (see profile)
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, Creative ability, Law, Art criticism
    Item Type:
    Global Shakespeare, Copyright, creative commons, Appropriation, fandom, Shakespeare, Creativity, Adaptation
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    Much critical ink has been spilled in defining and establishing the terms of discussion: appropriation, adaptation, off-shoot, recontextualization, riff, reworking, and so on have been used interchangeably or under erasure. This paper both examines the utility of such nice distinctions, and critiques existing taxonomies. It takes as its starting point the premise that scholars must carefully articulate our reasons for deploying particular terms, so that Shakespearean thinkers, readers, writers, and performers can develop a shared, even if contested, discourse. Ultimately, however, it suggests a new rubric or heading under which to consider Shakespearean appropriations: as transformations. In a US context, to evoke either "adaptation" or "appropriation" is to evoke copyright law. I suggest that Shakespearean appropriations potentially metamorphose or mutate culture, literary form, creativity, pedagogy, and, most provocatively, the market economy, in part because Shakespearean texts antedate current US copyright law and thus any use we make of them is already “transformative.” In particular, Shakespearean appropriations transform creative production and intervene in contemporary commodity culture or the hypermediatized, monetized creative self. Shakespearean transformations in both legacy and emerging media also offer models for the new hybrid creative economies predicted ten years ago by Lawrence Lessig in part because of Shakespeare's "spreadability" (Jenkins', Ford, and Green's term for content that can be remixed, shared, grabbed and so on) and its "stickiness" (a marketing term popularized by Grant Leboff meaning the power to draw repeat users who forge a lasting connection with the source material).
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    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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