Date of Award
Master of Science
Ron Foresta, Stefanie Banjamin
William Shakespeare’s works are widely regarded as the pillar of English literature in Western society. An understanding of Shakespearean literature is a form of symbolic or cultural capital, and a lack thereof signals that a person is uncultured, uneducated. However, in his own time, Shakespeare was not so highly regarded. To fully understand the evolution that Shakespeare and his works have undergone, one must consider the modern memory politics that reify the contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare in the Western world at liex de memoire (places of memory), which are shaped by the tumultuous sequence of historical movements that formed Shakespeare’s image. The Globe Theatre is a powerful place where the writer’s memory is actively curated to cement his legacy into a cohesive narrative. This narrative is selective by nature, unable to include all aspects of Shakespeare’s history. To fetishize means that a person, idea, or narrative, is first objectified, then given power as a fixed object of fascination. This fetishization also solidifies its reputational politics. As a fetishized object, any nuance is stripped away, and we are discouraged from understanding the inner workings of how it is reified and normalized. Because of this fetishization, a simple, unproblematic narrative is created.
My main research question concerns the fetishization of Shakespeare, and the role that the Globe Theater plays in retelling, performing, and normalizing this fetish. How and to what extent does The Globe fetishize Shakespeare to create one narrative? To what degree is the modern Western gender and sexuality binary– the strict division of male versus female based on genitalia, and the attraction to the ‘opposite’ gender– upheld or critiqued? How is race and class portrayed at The Globe? I address these questions in a discourse analysis that explores how the Globe’s Research Bulletins, Such Stuff podcast, YouTube channel, and social media work to create and spread this fetish, as well as how this fetish both critiques and upholds ideas of gender identity, sexuality, class stereotypes, and racial biases. I conclude this thesis with suggestions on how the Globe might move forward to incorporate more diverse views to leverage this fetish as a means of social progression rather than repression.
Yessler, Reagan A, "Social Inequity in Memories of Shakespeare: The Fetishizing Power of the Globe Theatre. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2021.