Serial Shakespeare explores the dissemination and reassemblage of Shakespeare’s plays in contemporary media culture, regarding the way this taps into but also transforms his preferred themes, concerns and constellations of characters. The appropriations discussed include isolated citations in Westworld and The Wire, a typology of the first female president modelled on figures of female sovereignty, as well as a discussion of what one might call a specifically Shakespearean dramaturgy in Deadwood and The Americans. By proposing a reciprocal exchange between the early modern plays and contemporary serial TV drama, the book focusses on the transhistoric and transmedial dialogue a revisitation of the Bard entails. The readings consider the Shakespeare text again, from a different perspective, but also address the fact that his text comes back to us again, from the past. The book claims that serial TV drama keeps appropriating Shakespeare to give voice to unfinished cultural business regarding the state of the American nation because both share the sense of writing in and for a period of interim. Given that the Bard continues to write and read America, what the book draws into focus is how both scriptwriters and cultural critics can, by repurposing him, come up with narratives that are appropriate to our times.
in the digital media landscape, as Stephen O’Neill suggests, every text is readily up for grabs, the reiteration of parts and fragments from his plays is fluid, unpredictable, and spatially as well as temporally unbounded. 33
If, however, digitalmediaculture makes Shakespeare’s texts limitlessly available, the temporality at issue involves more than a futurity still to come. The open-endedness of the translatability of Shakespeare into serial drama also points backwards in time. Part and parcel of the paradoxical presence of the historical text in its