Launched: Shakespeare in the Global South in Cape Town and London

19 Jul 2019 - 14:15

The publication of Shakespeare in the Global South: Stories of Oceans Crossed in Contemporary Adaptation was celebrated at book launch events in Cape Town and London in May. Author Sandra Young was invited to a colloquium in London in which Professors Sonia Massai (Kings College, London) and Mark Thornton Burnett (Queens University, Belfast) acted as respondents, asking probing questions of the book and the assumptions it confronts. The launch was part of a two-day colloquium jointly hosted by Kings College, London, and the book’s publisher, Arden Shakespeare, to mark the launch of two new books within the Arden ‘Global Shakespeare Inverted’ series. In a series of conversations, scholars reflected on the nature of the ‘inversions’ made possible by perspectives from the South.

The book launch in Cape Town also took the form of a panel discussion about new directions in Global Shakespeare scholarship. This public event concluded the ‘Shakespeare and Social Justice’ conference at the Fugard Theatre. Sandra Young was joined on stage by some of the international delegates whose new books have recently appeared in print, scholars Katherine Hennessey, Wendy Beth Hyman, Alexa Alice Joubin, and Ayanna Thompson, and moderator Chris Thurman, President of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa and Head of English at Wits.

Moderator, Prof Chris Thurman (Wits), sets up the terms of the discussion, with (from right to left) Alexa Alice Joubin, Wendy Beth Hyman, Sandy Young, Katherine Hennessey and Ayanna Thompson

Professor Ayanna Thompson, President of the Shakespeare Association of America and Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies has remarked on the book’s challenge to traditional Shakespeare studies: ‘Shakespeare in the Global South is a critical triumph! Sandra Young brilliantly challenges Shakespeare studies and contemporary cultural studies through her insightful readings. She crafts a careful, beautiful, and ultimately optimistic book.’

Read more about the book in the following published synopsis:

Contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays have brought into sharp focus the legacies of slavery, racism and colonial dispossession that still haunt the global South. Looking sideways across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to nontraditional centres of Shakespeare practice, Shakespeare in the Global South explores the solidarities generated by contemporary adaptations and their stories of displacement and survival. The book takes its lead from innovative theatre practice in Mauritius, North India, Brazil, postapartheid South Africa and the diasporic urban spaces of the global North, to assess the lessons for cultural theory emerging from the new works.

Using the ‘global South’ as a critical frame, Sandra Young reflects on the vocabulary scholars have found productive in grappling with the impact of the new iterations of Shakespeare’s work, through terms such as ‘creolization’, ‘indigenization’, ‘localization’, ‘Africanization’ and ‘diaspora’. Shakespeare’s presence in the global South invites us to go beyond familiar orthodoxies and torecognize the surprising affinities felt across oceans of difference in time and space that allow Shakespeare’s inventiveness to be a part of the enchanting subversions at play in contemporary theatre’s global currents.