by James Newlin
University of Alabama Press, 2024
Paper: 978-0-8173-6115-0 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-9475-2 | Cloth: 978-0-8173-2176-5
Library of Congress Classification PR3093.N49 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 822.33


How the study of Shakespeare’s legacy, specifically in film and television, can radically challenge what we consider to be authentically Shakespearean

In the field of adaptation studies today, the idea of reading an adapted text as “faithful” or “unfaithful” to its original source strikes many scholars as too simplistic, too conservative, and too moralizing. In Uncanny Fidelity: Recognizing Shakespeare in Twenty-First Century Film and Television, James Newlin challenges these critical orthodoxies. Instead, recognizing how a film or television series closely recalls Shakespeare’s drama encourages an interrogation of what we consider to be “Shakespeare” in the first place.

Drawing upon Sigmund Freud’s model of the uncanny—the sudden sensation of peculiar, discomforting familiarity—this book focuses on films and television series that were not marketed as adaptations of Shakespeare. Yet these works unexpectedly invoke lost, even troubling aspects of Shakespeare’s original playtexts, their performance history, or their reception. Broadening the scope of fidelity readings beyond familiar concerns like plot and language, Newlin demonstrates how the study of Shakespeare’s afterlife can clarify both the historical context of his drama and its relevance for the current political moment. Engaging contemporary debates in literary and psychoanalytic theory, this book features provocative close readings of The Tempest, Othello, and The Winter’s Tale alongside recent films and television series, from art-house movies such as The Master and Manchester by the Sea to the cult favorites Brigsby Bear and Vice Principals. These works conjure widely overlooked qualities of Shakespeare’s drama by recalling the casting practices or the generic contexts of the early modern stage or by making a meaningful intervention in the plays’ critical reception. Closely examining these surprisingly faithful adaptations of Shakespeare’s drama helps us to articulate the original experience of the early modern stage and better consider its resonance in the present.

This book will benefit students and scholars of Shakespeare on film and psychoanalytic theory. Yet Uncanny Fidelity will also be of interest to scholars of performance history, source studies, and early modern discourses of race and gender—as well as anyone interested in the unexpected connections between canonical literature and contemporary culture. By examining adaptation as an instance of uncanny return, Newlin demonstrates how the study of Shakespeare’s afterlife can radically challenge what we consider to be authentically Shakespearean.



See other books on: 1564-1616 | Film adaptations | Genres | Shakespeare | Shakespeare, William
See other titles from University of Alabama Press