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"You have no voice!": Constructing reputation through contemporaries in the Shakespeare biopic

Kirwan, Peter

Authors



Abstract

This article addresses the construction of Shakespearean reputation and legacy in contemporary film through re-evaluation of the much-derided Anonymous (Roland Emmerich, 2011), in addition to John Madden's Shakespeare in Love (1998). In both films, the framing, presentation and performance of Shakespeare's contemporaries (Jonson, Marlowe, Nashe, Dekker and Webster) is key to an understanding of how both films figure what it means to be "Shakespeare" and what it means to be "not-Shakespeare". Viewing Shakespeare and his work through the eyes of his fellow writers, the films position Shakespearean reputation as formed both by and in spite of the observations of his friends and rivals.

In performing Shakespeare's contemporaries, writers and work are elided to create simple caricatures that contrast directly with the expectations of Romantic genius established for Shakespeare. In the cases of Marlowe and Jonson, however, more complex associations between competing literary legacies are brought into play that problematise the nature of the Shakespearean legacy. Emmerich's film, in seeking to rewrite the history of "Shakespeare", employs Jonson as its protagonist in order to question the nature of memorialisation, recognition and connoisseurship in preference to unquestioning fandom. In so doing, Anonymous provides a model for understanding the anti-Stratfordian experience through the overshadowing of other early modern dramatists.

Citation

Kirwan, P. (2014). "You have no voice!": Constructing reputation through contemporaries in the Shakespeare biopic. Shakespeare Bulletin, 32(1), https://doi.org/10.1353/shb.2014.0009

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 9, 2013
Publication Date Mar 1, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 20, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 20, 2015
Journal Shakespeare Bulletin
Print ISSN 0748-2558
Electronic ISSN 1931-1427
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 1
DOI https://doi.org/10.1353/shb.2014.0009
Keywords film, Shakespeare, Jonson, authorship, Anonymous, Shakespeare in love
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/30865
Publisher URL http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/shakespeare_bulletin/v032/32.1.kirwan.html
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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