The Third and Final SURP/CCEP Researcher Chimes In




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Hi all!


I’m Alana, a rising
Senior, English major, and Writing Fellow at Pomona College. Just two weeks
ago, I returned home to sunny SoCal after 6 months in Cambridge, UK. Currently,
I’m part-time (but that may change; we’ll see). Anyway, in addition to curating
exhibits and working in CCEPs with Emma and Pieter, I’m also going to use this
library time to get started on my thesis examining magical language in
Shakespeare’s plays. 

When I’ve told people
that I’ll be writing about Shakespeare (and will possibly be pursuing a
Master’s in it as well), I’ve gotten two reactions. 1) That’s awesome! or 2)
Ew, Shakespeare is no fun. Well, part of what my aim for this blog is to make
the latter group see is that Shakespeare is fun. For example,
take a look at this picture of an actor portraying Richard III.

Sassy Richard III.jpeg

Just look at his facial
expression and body position and try to tell me that he’s boring. There’s so much sass.

More that just this
picture, though, I’ve come across a few cool illustrations while searching for
a direction for my research. One (see below) is from The Tempest,
one of the magic plays and one of Shakespeare’s last plays. In this one,
Prospero commands certain natural forces and spirits of this abandoned island,
and we can see the extent of his power in this image from a 1871 decorative
edition of Shakespeare’s works.

Tempest Illustrated.jpeg

This same edition
contains this image (see below), featuring the Bard himself (again, look at
that body position and tell me this is serious). As the creator, Shakespeare
sits with some of his characters, including the transformed Bottom (he’s the
donkey) from 
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The banner at the top asserts something we
have seen come true: Shakespeare has endured for all time (so far).

Illustrated Title for Shakes.jpg

There’s a whimsical feel
to this picture and places Shakespeare in the same plane as his characters,
possibly suggesting that they exist in the same world. Considering how writer had
come to be “our immortal Shakespeare,” it is no surprise to see him placed in
the same plane as his characters (from the Proem of F.G. Waldron’s
The Virgin Queen: A Drama in 5 Acts;
Attempted as a Sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest
. 1797).

Along these lines, I
found a masque called Shakespeare’s
(1769) which places characters from plays like Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s
, and The Tempest in one
common setting, one which the bard eventually enters. Not only does this masque
reflect trends of people imitating his works, it represents a fictionalization
of the writer into an idea subject to creative manipulation rather than a
static historical figure.

Shakespeare's Jubilee.JPG

(The Bard, right there in the masque with characters he created.)

I don’t know about you,
but I think that’s pretty cool. If you do, too, please stick around for more
posts to come. It’s nice to make your Internet acquaintance!