Douglas Lanier: Analysis Of Shakespeare And Modern Popular Culture

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Shakespeare and Modern Popular Culture. By Douglas Lanier.
Reviewed by Jari Ullah. M.Phil. Roll# 10
Shakespeare and Modern Popular Culture by Douglas Lanier introduces us to the Shakespeare of later-days and its multiple “appropriations”. The book is a collection and an anthology of appropriations, adaptations, tourism, festivals, his history, allusions, citations and Bard’s other contemporary versions of his collective works. Lanier is of the view that cultural productions have little to do with later-days Shakespeare but his figure, works and name has been a battlefield for many to wage cultural wars on. Throughout the book Lanier’s tone, while assessing popular “appropriations”, is appreciative and supportive. The main objective of the
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The book will also explores notions of “how and why popular culture uses Shakespeare”(4) even though there is a clear distinction between the “highbrow and lowbrow”(3), his definition of high and popular culture. There have been many “appropriations” of Bard’s work from one realm to another “even though they contain not a single word written by Shakespeare” that’s why the question of “how far we are willing to extend the name Shakespeare” (9) rises. In this chapter Lanier introduces us to the film Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country and its allusions to “Hamlet”. Though Lanier does not unravel the allusion in detail but through this far stretched connection and perceptive reading he intends “to show how varied, complex and purposeful the relationship can be between Shakespeare and popular culture” (16). Once we get ourselves familiarize to the book we can please ourselves as if walking in an amusement park of…show more content…
Lanier says that the Bard got unpopularized through continuous appropriation and reappropriation of his works. In addition economic strength provided the elite with education, giving them the self assumed right to hold “cultural warrant”(Shakespeare) only for themselves. Two things added in unpopularizing Shakespeare: First, First Folio of 1623. The “print made Shakespeare’s plays literary” (24). Carrying the printed Shakespeare works “marked one’s membership in a literate, civilized bourgeois class” (29). Second, Ben Jonson’s poem “To the memory of my beloved, The author Master William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us”. In his poem he projects the Master as a person “transcendent of popular culture” (24) and places him with high culture icons. Victorian audience, on the contrary, contributed in popularizing the Bard through commenting and critiquing his plays during performances. Which 19th and 20th centenary promoted through parodying Shakespeare and production in mass media respectively. One of mass media’s consequences is that it makes Shakespeare’s distinctive feature of Britishness less pronounced, as directors from all over the world are adapting his works in their own languages and cultural ways which are totally
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