In my dissertation, “‘Tell it again, but different’: Gender, Race, and Adaptation in The Taming of the Shrew and Othello,” I examine contemporary adaptations of two of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays: The Taming of the Shrew and Othello. While Shakespeare adaptation studies is a growing field, most of its scholars produce single-text close readings or broader comparisons across plays, thereby missing how expectations of genre and form operate across media to dictate and circumscribe the work of adaptation in relation to specific Shakespeare plays. My dissertation enacts a new scholarly method of approaching individual plays through their larger adaptation trends by using a more comprehensive, cross-media, and comparative analytic.
Comparing adaptations across media and genre by means of an intersectional perspective that reads gender, race, class, and sexuality in terms of their mutually constitutive influence, my project contributes to studies of Shakespeare, adaptation, and popular culture. While the two large sections of my dissertation focus on distinctive adaptive genres in relation to Taming of the Shrew, on the one hand, and Othello, on the other, my analyses across these foci provide a comparative analysis of the limitations and possibilities of adaptation. In each case, the first chapter of the section considers the problems that have arisen from the play and its performance history and how adaptations have typically responded to them, while the second chapter performs close readings of specific adaptations. Because adaptations are inherently intertextual and multimodal, they place unique methodological demands on the reader and viewer, requiring a careful balance of close reading, comparison, and attention to historical, cultural, and generic specificity. Within my project, I also engage with film theory, media studies, popular culture studies, performance studies, feminist theory, and critical race studies, framing Shakespearean adaptation as an ongoing process that requires continual interdisciplinary contextualization.
I have presented research from my dissertation at the Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Annual Conference, the Shakespearean Theatre Conference at Stratford, the Modern Language Association Convention, and the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference.