Transcultural Shakespeare




Prof. Dr. Susan Arndt


Englische Literaturwissenschaft und Anglophone Literaturen







Research on intertextuality and the possible sources of Shakespeare’s plays is a prevalent field of studies predominantly focusing on European textual interactions. Based on a farewell symposium [SA1] for Prof., Prof. h.c. Dr. Michael Steppat (University of Bayreuth, editor of The New Variorum Shakespeare) with kenyote lecturer Prof. Paul Werstine (Kent University, Canada and co-general editor of The New Variorum Shakespeare edition) a research project has grown that looks at the sources of Shakespeare’s plays that originate from Africa, the MENA region or South East Asia. Treasures of world literature such as Alf Layla wa Layl, known in English as The Arabian Nights, as well as Asian and African oral narratives (folktales, legends, praise poetry etc.) have left traces of intertextual encounters in Shakespeare’s text. For one thing, the research project aims to identify and analyse these traces. For another, it looks for explanations for these encounters, inquiring into the roots and routes of Shakespeare’s knowledge of these sources. Of course, London was a space of transcultural encounters. Shakespeare, eagerly looking for stories, could have met and asked people from these regions to share their stories with him. I hope to find traces of such encounters, such as reports of travellers, in European (e.g., British and Spanish), African (e.g., Northern countries and Egypt) and Asian (e.g., Iranian and Thai) archives. In doing so, a research group is to be constituted. As a result, the project intends to publish a series of monographs featuring Shakespeare’s intertextual dialogicity with narrations of African and Asian literary traditions. My personal focus will be dedicated to Othello (and his African sources) as well as to tracing the origins for Shakespeare’s queer reconceptualisations of fairness, accrediting it to white men and Black women.