Nicholas Ciavarra, University of Georgia
Shakespeare & Stratford, edited by Katherine Scheil with an afterword by Nicola J. Watson. New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2019. 115 pp. ISBN 978-1-78920-255-7; ISBN 978-1-78920-256-4; eISBN 978-1-78920-257-1. $135.00 (Hardback); $24.95 (Paperback). $24.95 (eBook).
Shakespeare & Commemoration, edited by Clara Calvo and Ton Hoenselaars. New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2019.140 pp. ISBN 978-1-78920-246-5; ISBN 978-1-78920-247-2; eISBN 978-1-78920-248-9. $135.00 (Hardback); $24.96 (Paperback). $24.95 (eBook).
The first two volumes of the Shakespeare & series edited by Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey are a promising start to a set of books that push beyond the plays and into the major fields, figures, and theories that surround the famous author. By their own description from the back of each volume, this series aims to intersect "the worlds beyond fiction and poetry with those disciplines outside of literature and drama" to explore the legacy left by Shakespeare. While the degree to which each chapter leaves literature and drama behind varies from author to author, both Shakespeare & Stratford and Shakespeare & Commemoration offer an incredible breadth of subjects and approaches to each book's theme.
Shakespeare & Stratford, edited by Katherine Scheil, examines Shakespeare in relation to his home, both in terms of the physical space of Stratford-upon-Avon, and also through the town as it exists in metaphorical spaces. The first chapter, Christy Desmet's "Helen Faucit and the Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1879" highlights the relationship between Faucit and Stratford through the first performance in the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Chapter 2, "Secret Stratford" by Susanne Greenhalgh, presents Stratford as it appears in a variety of young adult fiction books as a location imbued with the spirit of Shakespeare in his own time and the centuries following. Chapter 3 returns to the geographical in Julie Sanders's "Stratfordian Perambulations." Sanders walks us through Dominic Dromgoole's initial walk from Stratford to the Globe Theatre and the experience of walking in and through Stratford generally. Chapters 4 and 5 both map Stratford's international relationships, primarily with America. Clara Calvo specifically looks at the relationship between America, religion, and Stratford in "Shakespeare's Church and the Pilgrim Fathers," while Katherine Scheil's "Importing Stratford" tracks the numerous towns that transported the name from England into their own nation.
Each chapter is by nature self contained, but together they present an interdisciplinary profile of Stratford-upon-Avon. Through the course of this volume, Stratford emerges as a geographical center that becomes metaphorically dispersed. Desmet and Sanders cast Stratford as a central location drawing the masses in. As an annual location of Shakespearean celebrations or of the more quotidian walking tours, Stratford is positioned as having an undeniable allure that imbues visits with its weighty history. Greenhalgh, Calvo, and Scheil, on the other hand, chronicle the dissemination of Stratford as an idea that draws distant individuals and locations into the life of Shakespeare through his birthplace. In each contribution, Stratford's power transcends the physical boundaries of the town and crosses oceans either in name or in stories. Both approaches provide a compelling reason for Shakespeareans to consider Stratford when doing their own work, regardless of field.
The second entry in the series, Shakespeare & Commemoration, edited by Clara Calvo and Ton Hoenselaars, contains almost double the amount of chapters as the first entry, but may be best summed up through Graham Holderness's creative afterword, "The Seeds of Time." In this fictitious account, a Time Traveler and his friend travel back in time to meet Shakespeare, but instead find themselves in 1851 and 2012, seeing how each century remembers him and his works. The nine chapters that precede the afterword follow the path of Holderness's Time Traveler, each selecting their destinations to explore how Shakespeare commemorates and has been commemorated in the centuries since his death.
Emily Shortslef begins with a close reading of several of Shakespeare's moments of commemoration within his history plays in order to flesh out his own take on the genre that his legacy would be subjected to. Chapter 2, "From Jubilee to Gala: Remembrance and Ritual Commemoration" by Robert Sawyer, tracks the influence of Garrick's 1769 Jubilee on the Royal Gala of 1830 and other subsequent celebrations of Shakespeare. Graham Holderness moves on to the late-nineteenth century by examining a statue in the Aldermanbury Garden commemorating the original Shakespeare comemorators: Heminge and Condell. Chapters 4 and 5 explore Shakespearean commemoration in America on both local and national scales as Katherine Scheil charts the remembering of Shakespeare in small, local reading clubs, while Monika Smialkowska examines how Americans in Georgia, Massachusetts, and North Dakota used Shakespeare as a key connecting figure in their crafting of the American origin story from the English renaissance, through the founding of the country, to the American 1916 Tercentenary celebrations. Chapters 6 and 7 examine how Shakespeare is remembered during and after World War II. Adrian Poole's "The Disciplines of War, Memory, and Writing: Shakespeare's Henry V and David Jones's In Parenthesis" reads through the novel to see how the work may refer to Shakespeare, but recalls him as a stepping stone to access Jones's own Welsh ancestry. In the final chapter, Anite M. Hagerman uses the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as examples of how post-war theaters produced Shakespeare's histories in their complete cycles to move England past its post-war status.
Like the first volume in the series, Shakespeare & Commemoration unites more around the singular focus of its title than any particular approach. Despite the historical bent of most of its essays, it is far from a historicist project. Each examination of a commemorative event brings the reader closer to Shakespeare through those who have already practiced the art of remembering him. Like the Time Traveller of the afterword, the book never actually encounters Shakespeare directly, but meets with those who actively worked to remember him. As each chapter illustrates, however, every commemoration remembers Shakespeare as a different figure.
The Shakespeare & series excels primarily in its sense of breadth. Each individual essay is precisely focused, but the interdisciplinary nature of work leads to each book taking numerous approaches to its theme. For those looking for a single, in depth approach to each entry's topic, this series may not be the best match. For scholars looking for how Stratford or Commemoration intersect with a vast array of fields, howevewer, Shakespeare & is an excellent series that delivers on its promise of bridging many disciplinary approaches to Shakespeare.
Calvo, Clara, and Ton Hoenselaars, eds. Shakespeare & Commemoration. New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2019.
Scheil, Katherine, ed. Shakespeare & Stratford. New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2019.