"Our Shakespeare" aims to nurture our community’s rediscovery of the range, power, and wisdom of Shakespeare’s art.
The project title revises the individualistic language of the internet (“My Cart,” “My Luther”) to suggest our common investment in the creation, appreciation, distribution, and adaptation of individual artists’ work. The word play in the subtitle suggests both that we can renew our connections to Shakespeare, and that the connections themselves are renewing. In the words of the general Jones Professorship description, this project emphasizes that “the traditions of the humanities can speak clearly across boundaries of individual lives and of periods in history, and that preservation and examination of cultural traditions is an important part of our history.”
Although Shakespeare is the most performed dramatist in the world, the source of more films than any other single author, and the single writer whose work has been most widely experienced throughout human history, his name is also an icon for the inaccessibility of what is falsely considered high culture. And although Shakespeare is undoubtedly the single author whose work is most widely experienced world-wide—partly through high school curricula that as a matter of form often include at least one of his plays—initial exposure doesn’t necessarily translate into continuing, mature appreciation. One goal of “Our Shakespeare” is to cut through the negative cliches and our sometimes problematic early exposure in order to reveal our common connections to the profound human experience lying at the heart of Shakespeare’s work.
The project will reintroduce people to Shakespeare in different ways, including through some of the many adaptations that Shakespeare’s original work has generated.