Academic journal article The Upstart Crow

Dear Readers

Academic journal article The Upstart Crow

Dear Readers

Article excerpt

Dear Readers,

It is a particular pleasure to introduce Volume 31 (2012), "Shakespeare's Female Icons," featuring an essay section guest edited by Francesca Royster of DePaul University. Drawing from a 2010 Shakespeare Association of America seminar, this section and the issue as a whole examine the ways in which female icons continue to transform the cultural value of Shakespeare.

Professor Royster's introduction theorizes the significance of Shakespeare's female icons for contemporary discussions of gender, race, and power. Natalie Loper analyzes the celebrity presence of the former teen icon Julia Stiles and the way that her "real-life" personae inform our perceptions of her Ophelia, while Dee Anna Phares offers an alternate perspective on Stiles, calling attention to the visuality and lack of vocality of her Desi in the film O. Challenging the premise that icons are necessarily visual, Kendra Leonard focuses on the musical score of Kenneth Branagh's As You Like It. Niamh O'Leary charts the dynamic new perspective on Hamlet's enigmatic Gertrude offered by Feng Xiaogang's The Banquet, and Catherine Thomas studies the varied representations of another highly ambivalent icon, Lady Macbeth, in recent graphic novels. Coming full circle, Royster returns to the icon as postmodern celebrity as she juxtaposes the public reception of Condoleezza Rice to Shakespeare's Cleopatra, a raced, gendered agent and receptacle of fantasy. At the end, Ayanna Thompson reflects on the relational status of the icon, suggesting that this collection demonstrates the extent to which "These icons have lives that accrue meaning through repetition, revision, and restaging."

Our performance reviews examine current theatrical embodiments of Shakespeare's female icons. …

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