Prologue, Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange (Columbia University Press, 2009, 2011, 2015). Modern Language Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies [chapter]

Alexa Alice Joubin
Named the Writer of the Millennium, Shakespeare has come full circle and become a cliché, embraced by marketers and contested by intellectuals. Similar narratives about China's rise in global stature have been told with equal gusto, championed and denounced in turn by optimists and critics. If Shakespeare now has worldwide currency, how is the sense of belonging and betrayal configured chronologically and spatially? The old news—our journalistic familiarity with Shakespeare's provenance in
more » ... l contexts—calls for careful reconstruction of a historical foundation for theorization. For well over 180 years, East Asian writers, filmmakers, and theater directors have also engaged Shakespeare in their works in a wide range of contexts. The ideas of Shakespeare and China have been put to work in unexpected places. It is my hope that Chinese Shakespeares' localization of the meanings of Shakespeare and China will break down the critical impasse surrounding cross-cultural entanglements, a crucial step toward reinventing the interpretive energy that has been dulled by ideological investments in various conventions of authenticity informed by notions of the original and the derivative. It is important that Chinese Shakespeares as a new interpretive subject be analyzed so as to dislodge what China means and how Shakespeare is customarily interpreted, because multilocation perspectives bring to light the unpredictable and exciting fabric of cultural life that rarely conforms to institutional divisions of knowledge production. This displacement is necessary to keep roads passable and bridges open between different forms of cultural production and knowledge.
doi:10.17613/fx7b-9a84 fatcat:trgs32x5mnbxvmgny74wqhk6bu