Shakespeare today is a global phenomenon: over five hundred years after his death, the playwright's legacy continues to flourish with new performances, reworkings, appropriations, and adaptations continuously produced across the world in a range of languages and across various media. Once exported along with the ideologies and practices of empire, Shakespeare's works have now become an index for the complex histories of colonialism and postcolonialism as well as a crucial site for studying processes of racialization, constructions of gender across time, and debates over the universalizing idea of "the human." How did Shakespeare become global? Was the cultural imagination of his plays always already global, written at a time with the very notion of the modern world as we know was being shaped? Have modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays made them global and able to cross cultures—or are these versions merely responding to early modern debates about globalization, identity and cultural politics that were already embedded in the drama?
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Chair of the Program in Renaissance Studies at Yale University
Ayesha Ramachandran is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Chair of the Program in Renaissance Studies at Yale University. Her first, prizewinning book, The Worldmakers (University of Chicago Press, 2015) provides a cultural and intellectual history of “the world,” showing how it emerged as a cultural keyword in early modernity. She has also published on Ariosto, Donne, Lucretius, Montaigne, Petrarch, Spenser, and Tasso; on comparative histories of early modern world maps, on the concept of the global early modern, on postcolonial drama, and on the histories of religious fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism in various journals and volumes. Her current projects range from new research on early modern and contemporary South Asia to work in comparative philology, cartography, oral history, and lyric studies. Her new book manuscript in progress is tentatively entitled, Lyric Thinking: Towards a Global Poetics.