Shakespeare Online

Curating and Commenting on Digital Shakespeares


“This savvy, informative and accessible
book is an asset to teachers and learners in general as well as to researchers. A copy by every Shakespearian’s laptop?”.

– Russell Jackson, Shakespeare Survey 68 (2015)

“Shakespeare and YouTube […] provides an extensive examination of the theoretical and practical consequences of a medium that includes amateurs, professionals, students, dilettantes, and nearly every other category one could imagine. O’Neill’s account of YouTube Shakespeare is professional, articulate, and nuanced”.

– Sheila Cavanagh, Shakespeare Quarterly 66.3 (2015)

“[A]s a thoughtful and thorough introduction to the subject, the book defines its territory in a way that helps both newcomers and more experienced scholar-teachers find their own way into the field. […] It is heartening to see the Arden Shakespeare series attending to Shakespeare in new media, and Shakespeare and YouTube offers a good model for future studies of this kind.”

– Christy Desmet, Shakespeare 11.2 (2015): 233-36.

 Shakespeare and YouTube is available from Bloomsbury / Arden Shakespeare in pbk / hbk / epub / kindle

My interest in YouTube Shakespeare began in the classroom. The site suggests a seemingly endless and readily available spool of bite-size Shakespeare, ideal clips for introducing a scene or for thinking about the latest film version of a play. On YouTube, we access and interact with a living archive of Shakespeare materials.  In seeking out those clips, however, I was always conscious of all the other material and had a sense that something exciting was occurring through this video-sharing platform. The small-screens on YouTube grant us access to a new type of Shakespeare, one that is open-source.

YouTube provides a space where anyone can share their own response to or version of Shakespeare. And ‘amateur’ is not an appropriate category for such material. Those roles variously associated with the cultural reception of Shakespeare – such as performer, producer, auteur, editor, translator – are now widely available. Broadcast Your Bard. This is the brave new world of the user-generated Shakespeare, the mash-up, the soliloquy as vlog, the parodic, the irreverent. I think these are just some of the ways that YouTube is becoming a crucial medium through which Shakespeare is produced and received in the twenty-first century. Of course, YouTube is part of a busy, fluid and commercially loaded mediascape. Seeking out Shakespeare online brings with it multiple distractions as well as questions about the nature of our online interventions and, by extension, our identities in the context of mass media.

Dr Stephen O’Neill, Associate Professor, Maynooth University Department of English, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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