The cultural value of Shakespeare in twenty-first-century publicly-funded theatre in England

Linnemann, Emily Caroline Louise (2011). The cultural value of Shakespeare in twenty-first-century publicly-funded theatre in England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis argues that in the plural cultural context of the twenty-first century the value of Shakespeare resides in his identity as a free and flexible resource. This adaptable Shakespeare is valuable to theatres because they are dialectical spaces. Free-resource Shakespeare is able to contain a range of different cultural values and theatres provide a space for producers and consumers of culture to negotiate between them. It has been established that tensions of cultural value, for example innovation/tradition or commercial/non-commercial govern the production, dissemination and critique of culture. Building on this idea, this work shows that when tensions are dealt with as negotiations rather than confrontations, new cultural value is generated. It identifies Shakespeare as a site for the debate of value tensions and contends that he can be simultaneously commercial and non-commercial, traditional and innovative. Cultural value is thus created because Shakespeare is reinvigorated and redefined through a process which negotiates between tensions. In publicly-funded theatre this process manifests itself in an ambiguous relationship to the market, myriad adaptations and a move towards event-theatre. The cultural value of Shakespeare in publicly-funded theatre mirrors the continual redefinition of the Shakespearean object and, rather than being a concrete ‘thing’, is better defined as a constant process.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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