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.
The cinematic afterlife of an early modern political diva
Elisabeth Bronfen and Barbara Straumann
against the politician, the
mediality of her material embodiment also comes to be foregrounded.
Moreover, these screen re-enactments thematically address the conflict
between private person and public persona particular to femalesovereignty because the Queen is both stateswoman and potential wife and
mother (or virgin in the case of Elizabeth I). This raises the question
of how each of the four film
A series of first female presidents from Commander in Chief to House of Cards
a murderous hold on power with a contemplative attitude, a proto feminist re-encoding of the tragic manifests itself in this reduction of the couple to one absolute sovereign. What if Lady Macbeth had not committed suicide and instead waited for her bloodthirsty husband to lose his final battle before returning to the stage? Indeed, if Frank Underwood’s sudden death assures Claire’s political survival, what comes to be debated over his dead body is contemporary culture’s anxiety regarding femalesovereignty. 16
In one of her asides, Claire explains what it
’/’explorer’ Nicholas Van Huyn who first enters Tera's mortuary chamber in the late 1640s and draws on the observations of John Greaves, author of the real Pyramidographia: A Study of the Pyramids of Aegypt (1646) to inspire his own travelogue published in 1650.
Van Huyn is followed by English ‘Egyptologists’ Trelawny and Corbeck who, literate in hieroglyphs, make Tera's mummy and tomb their life's work. Tethered to 2500 bce , when femalesovereignty was the exception rather than the norm, and awaiting in a death-sleep her
her husband. If Henry’s death was to be tantamount to the removal of the royal succession from her son, she now declares, ‘Off with the crown, and with the crown, his head’. 30
In the brief time left, York responds by returning her callousness in kind, calling her a ‘she-wolf of France’, an ‘Amazonian trull’, and ‘false Frenchwoman’. What makes her most monstrous in his eyes, however, articulates a larger anxiety about femalesovereignty. To him, she is a rogue because she has strayed from proper womanhood. Women, he claims, ‘are soft, mild, pitiful and flexible
natural body and persists in the body political, guaranteeing the
institution’s immortality. 9 As a female monarch, Elizabeth I was constituted by a
normatively masculine symbolic body and a feminine natural one, a duality
that is also marked in the relations of gender to power in her cinematic
representation. Addressing the conflict between private person and public
persona particular to femalesovereignty, Elisabeth
. 122; Susan Frye,
‘Specters of femalesovereignty in Shakespeare’s plays’, in The Oxford Handbooks
of Shakespeare and Embodiment: Gender, Sexuality, and Race, edited by Valerie Traub
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 112–30.
Bess of Hardwick: new perspectives
15 Jerry Brotton, The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam
(New York: Viking, 2016), pp. 1–11.
16 For example, Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between
East and West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000); Debra Johanyak and Walter
apologists continued to defend femalesovereignty
from these attacks: John Fowler, for example, publishing a translation of Peter
Frarin’s An Oration Against the Unlawfull Insurrections of the Protestantes in 1566,
which rebutted Knox and Goodman’s denial of Mary’s right to rule.145
Christopher Goodman was unique in excluding female rule on principle.
Mary was disqualified not just because she was the ‘ungodlie and vnlawful
Gouernesse, wicked Iesabel’ and ‘in dede bastarde, and unlawfully begotten’,
but also because ‘beit that she were no bastard, but the kinges daughter
all to speak, in line with the demands of her inner
Should we see the Wife’s arguments in favour of femalesovereignty as really being an argument for the renunciation by men of
their supremacy within marriage which is the precondition of a new and
more equal relationship between the sexes? Certainly, the Wife tells us
that once her fifth husband surrendered ‘the governance of hous
) of one drug lord leads to the coronation of his violent successor.
The two chapters at the centre of the book make use of the pathos formula of the female ruler to discuss the fascination and anxiety that femalesovereignty poses in relation to a crisis in American democracy regarding the question of legitimate and illegitimate power. The crossmapping of a series of first female presidents with a typology of queenship in Shakespeare’s plays begins in Chapter 3 with Beau Willimon’s Gothic political thriller, House of Cards , because of its explicit references