Patriotic Ceramics and Shakespeare in the United States
This essay examines an early nineteenth-century bowl from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's US collection to explore the ramifications of seeking and finding connections to Shakespeare in such an item. With no direct link to Shakespeare or his works, the bowl illustrates Christy Desmet's concept of accidental appropriation and reveals the ambivalent relationship between US independence and a reliance on the Old World as a source of refined cultural identity that endured for most of the nineteenth century. As this reflects on US annexation of Shakespeare as a symbol of refinement, Shakespeare's cultural capital is also recognised in its manner of arrival in the collection, and indeed, in the desire by SBT curators and researchers to 'find' Shakespeare within it.
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