Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere?

By Harrington, Louise | British Journal of Canadian Studies, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere?


Harrington, Louise, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Diana Brydon and Irena R. Makaryk (eds), Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere? (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 490pp. £42. ISBN: 0-8020-3655-4.

As a Shakespearean scholar, I often imagine that there are few avenues within Shakespeare studies left to explore, but according to the editors of this book, the relationship between Shakespeare and Canada is a topic that is seldom addressed. With the recent academic interest in reading Shakespeare from a postcolonial perspective, you would think that Canada would get a look in somewhere, but apparently not: in her Afterword, co-editor Diana Brydon points out that Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin's Postcolonial Shakespeares (1998), to name just one key text, makes only a passing reference to Canada and to Canadian relationships with Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere? is the first book-length study of how Canadians react to Shakespeare, and how Shakespeare is reappropriated within Canadian culture.

The impetus for this book, the editors state, rose out of the response to the 'Nationalist and Intercultural Aspects of Shakespeare Reception' seminar at the 1994 Shakespeare Association of America. There, both American and British Shakespeareans 'seemed either to ignore Canadian Shakespeare in its various manifestations or collapse it into other categories' (p. 5); consequently, this book is an overdue attempt to examine the interaction between Shakespeare and contemporary Canadian debates concerning nationalism, separatism and postcolonialism, and to posit a peculiarly Canadian response to Shakespeare.

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