The Bard and the Myth of Universality: Decentering Shakespeare in Asian American Appropriations
Date of Award
Thesis open access
Kathryn V Santos
Asian American appropriations of Shakespeare challenge the myth-like status of the Bard, utilizing the plays to tell stories unique to Asian American experiences. Shakespeare and race studies has interrogated the relationship between Shakespeare, the reception of his works, and the problematic nature of his works’ role in western notions of whiteness and colonialism. This thesis continues this interrogation, extending the theory to understand the unique ways that Asian American playwrights appropriate Shakespeare. This thesis offers a case study of two plays: Do it for Umma by Seayoung Yim (an appropriation of Hamlet) and Peerless by Jiehae Park (an appropriation of Macbeth). Both plays offer a distinctive commentary on race dynamics. Do it for Umma focuses on Korean American culture, adapting Shakespeare’s most celebrated work to suit a narrative about immigration, generational trauma, and family. Peerless provides a biting commentary on race discourse and college admissions. This analysis delves into the ways both texts utilize cultural or political specificity to challenge the notion that Shakespeare’s work is in any way perfect or universal.
Pita, Sarah, "The Bard and the Myth of Universality: Decentering Shakespeare in Asian American Appropriations" (2023). English Honors Theses. 41.
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