Author Archives: Kassie Barroquillo

Shakespeare: The Remixer

It should be fairly well-known that Shakespeare, himself, was a remixer.  He took stories which has been passed on for centuries and turned them into plays.  Much of the reason we consider his plays archives, although they come from something else, is the way they have stayed intact for years.  Shakespeare’s use of language and iambic pentameter have created a standard which is still studied today.

In the Riverside Shakespeare Anthology, they explain that the most well-known piece of Shakespeare’s work, Romeo and Juliet, is very much a remix.  It came from a story, which came from a story, which came from a poem, which may (or may not) have come from a real life situation.

The same anthology explains Macbeth also has a rich history, similar to that of Romeo and Juliet.  The archive Shakespeare is believed to work from is Holinshed’s Chronicles (Macbeth). The character of Lady Macbeth is seemingly based upon Seneca.  It is believed that some of the changes in the play can be attributed to appeasing the king at the time.

Although this may seem apparent, Shakespeare’s histories are also remixed.  They come from what are believed to be true historical events, but Shakespeare adds his own spin to every situation, as he likely could not know the exact conversations that took place between the people featured as characters in his plays. Shakespeare became so famous for remixing histories that they are now considered a classification of his plays.

Knowing that Shakespeare was a remixer may help students grasp the idea of remix and also understand why Shakespeare is so remarkable.  With this in mind, I plan to make a portion of my website dedicated to explaining remixes which Shakespeare created.  This can act as another tool for students to use.

Shakespeare, William, G. Blakemore Evans, and J. J. M. Tobin. The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print.

Final: Remixing Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s Coriolamus Act II, Scene III Coriolamus claims,

What custom wills, in all things should we do’t,

The dust on antique time would lie unswept,

And mountainous error be too highly heap’d

For truth to o’er peer

(Shakespeare, Evans & Tobin 1460).

Although the verbiage appears a bit archaic, the sentiment applies even now.  There are times when change is necessary; if change does not happen, then problems (or errors) of the past will only worsen.  This advice is even pertinent to the current education system.  For the most part, Shakespeare’s works have been taught in the same outdated way for generations.  The few additions primarily centered on the addition of film to the syllabus.  Why has so little changed?  It is no wonder students struggle with Shakespeare in schools.

Remix and e-editions could revolutionize the way Shakespeare is taught in schools.  When everything is becoming digital, even the most classic works may benefit from the shift in paradigm.  Advanced high school students and undergraduate students may find Shakespeare’s works more accessible through the creation and inspection of remixed works of Shakespeare and the supplementation of e-editions.

Shakespeare may be easier for students to understand, if they understand that even his first folios were not written by him, but by his contemporaries and friends.  We know the plays were his, sometimes with the help of a co-playwright, but we do not have his handwriting on paper.  So, his friends and contemporaries made a copy, with appropriate attributions, which is a concept which will be considered in this paper (Hirsch).

This paper is exploring different ideas which could be combined to create an e-edition, remix site which students could use as a way to more easily access Shakespeare’s works.  This could be used as an educational tool for teachers and a way for students to continue their interest in Shakespeare outside of the classroom.

Shakespeare in Schools        

In high school and some undergraduate studies, many students see reading Shakespeare as a tedious task.  It is no surprise students feel this way when teachers use the same teaching method that was used on the students’ parents and grandparents.  When students lose interest, the entire reason for teaching them one of the most highly-regarded pieces of literature is lost.

The Common Core Standards, which have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia, include Shakespeare in their high school literacy program.  According to the standards a student should be able to, “Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text,” by the time they are a senior (corestandards.org).

Students are required to learn the content, so how should teachers approach the task? In Teaching English by Susan Brindley, she recommends teaching Shakespeare’s works actively, instead of students learning Shakespeare in a more solitary manner.  She recommends teachers see his works as a script instead of a mere sheet of text. Bruce Avery expands on Brindley’s basic ideas in “You Don’t Know Jack: Engaging the Twenty-First Century Student with Shakespeare’s Plays.”  Avery’s approach to reengage Jack with Shakespeare includes a multitude of foci, but the most important aspect of his approach is challenging electronic media for a student’s attention. He also explains students are able to mold their own identity through the use of social media.  Phenomenon like Facebook and YouTube make self-representation a central theme to the lives of students.

The ‘theatricality’ of Shakespeare’s culture is nothing compared to the multimediated theatricality of our own, and this fact prompts my attempt at answering the second question above with another question: is there a way to explore contemporary attitudes about self-representation in such a way that they form an approach to Shakespeare’s language? (Pg. 139)

The use of remix and e-editions may be the answer to Avery’s question. By teaching Shakespeare in such a way that the “multimediated theatricality” of Shakespeare is on display, there may be a greater chance of the students connecting.

What is Remix?

What is remix?  At first sight, the question seem simplistic, but in all reality, there are a multitude of answers.  There are many differing definitions of remix; three of the most well-known experts on remix are Lawrence Lessig, Eduardo Navas, and Kerbie Ferguson; the three take varying stances in regard to remix.

Lessig shapes two cultures: read-only culture (RO) and read/write culture (RW).  RO culture is one in which the audience passively consumes.  This is currently how most Shakespeare is taught in the classroom.  Students do not interact with the piece, they merely view it from a distance.  RW culture is what most understand as remix culture.  It is a culture in which people can interact with the piece.  They can shape it and mold it in ways the author has no control over.  Lessig says the obstacle facing RW culture is the question of how can we nurture creativity and still maximize a profit.  His solution is to use the distribution channels as the place of profit, instead of hiding the pieces behind copyright (Lessig).

Navas writes:

Today, Remix (the activity of taking samples from pre-existing materials to combine them into new forms according to personal taste) has been extended to other areas of culture, including the visual arts; it plays a vital role in mass communication, especially on the Internet” (Navas).

In the video, “Everything is a Remix, Part 1: The Song Remains the Same,” Kerbie Ferguson argues that it is possible to say “everything is a remix.”  He says remixing is a folk art.  He explains that “copy” and “knock-offs” are two forms of remix which are generally found within the music genre.  He continues his ideas in, “Everything is a Remix, Part 2: Remix Inc.,” where he cites specific examples of remixes, like Star Wars.  Ferguson states, “Creation requires influence. Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives, and the lives of others.”  In “Everything is a Remix, Part 3: The Elements of Creativity,” Ferguson explains that “copying is how we learn.”  We must emulate others before we can create something new through transformation. Copy, transform, and combine are the basic elements of creativity, according to Ferguson.  His last video of the series, “Everything is a Remix, Part 4: System Failure,” Ferguson approaches how our laws are failing our system of creativity.  Many of his ideas mirror Lessig in this manner.

Everything is a Remix: Part 3

In Professor Martin Irvine’s abstract, “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A model for Generative Cominatoriality,” he writes of placing ideas into the “combinatorial conceptual software.”  While he specifically cites music in his example, it can also be applied to the works of Shakespeare.  Professor Irvine writes, “The meaning of a remix emerges from the symbolic (re)uses of the quotational units in a new context of meanings, not from their prior disquotational function in other expression.”  So, within Shakespeare, the remix is most importantly understood within the context of the present, not necessarily from the previous meaning.

In this paper, Navas’s definition will be held as the commanding authority.  Remix is taking samples from an archive and using these samples to combine them into a new form.  Ferguson’s interpretation should also be taken into account.  I agree with his claims that remix is a folk art.  It is possible to remix without the use of digital technologies, but it would be naive to claim technology has not certainly shaped remix into an even more prominent part of culture through music, video, art, etc.

Why use online or e-editions?

The advantage of creating online, hypertext Shakespeare editions are numerous and convincing for many Shakespeare scholars.  While some examples have been mentioned, it is also beneficial because of the ability hypertext has to expand the understanding of Shakespeare’s works.

First and foremost, the common theme amongst all of the writers is the de-centralized text.  Michael Best says, in “Standing In Rich Place: Electrifying the Multiple-Text Edition or, Every Text Is Multiple,” the texts themselves are “fluid,” and an online, hypertext Shakespeare archive would help the text be realized.  It is fluid because it is known that there are multiple versions of Shakespeare’s works.  Rather than trying to create one text, which will likely limit the “real presence” of Shakespeare in his works, David Kastan says we should make the works as available as possible (Kastan 87).  This means we should offer versions of the play before and after they were subjected to use on stage; we should offer paperbacks, single plays, and complete compilations of his works; we should present versions with modernized English and others with old English; we should offer Shakespeare unedited, with facsimile copies.  Even with these many different versions, we could not possibly find the “real presence” of Shakespeare, but we could more easily understand the fluidity of Shakespeare’s works.  Here, Kastan returns to the digital text.  As there are not size limitations and it is fluid, it serves as the perfect host to this combination of texts.  Kastan explains on page 87:

For a Shakespeare edition, one could have an edited text (or indeed more than one), as well as digital facsimiles of all early printings; and additional resources could be included, like source texts or concordances, theater reviews, illustrations, audio clips, and even film versions, all of which can be linked to allow easy movement back and forth between them.

There is also opportunity to change the academic field; in, “The Kingdom has been Digitized: Electronic Editions of Renaissance Drama and the Long Shadows of Shakespeare and Print,” B.D.Hirsch writes that this is an opportunity to expand the canon.  Shakespeare is one of the only authors widely recognized from the Renaissance period, even though many of his plays were collaborative works.  He first equates the layout of current critical analysis of Shakespeare and other Renaissance-period works as behind barbed wire; the many brackets and other devices used to further explain the work make it hard to access the actual language.  Electronic editions removed the barbed wire as tools like hyperlinking can be used instead.  He also cites the shaping of a community as an incredible benefit of using electronic editions.  In what Hirsch argues is a far too limited group, this kind of group growth could change the entire climate of Renaissance-drama studies. Hirsch claims academia is doing a disservice to both Shakespeare and his contemporaries; his contemporaries are not acknowledged and scholars cannot truly examine and critique Shakespeare’s works if they do not understand other works which were widely-accepted during his era. Hirsch demands action; he proposes critical editions of Renaissance-period drama be published without the demand.  He suggests a new model, which stretches the cannon should be implemented.  He believes the only way to do this is to escape the boundaries of the printed word; there are too many obstructions, like publishers and marketing departments, involved in print. The growth of the canon is worth the challenges of maintaining the technologies necessary for electronic editions.

The use of multimedia only enhances the advantages of creating an online, hypertext Shakespeare archive.  In “The Text of Performance and the Performance of Text in the Electronic Edition,” Best approaches how electronic media can act as a tool for times in which Shakespeare’s writing (and stage directions) may hinder the actor’s (or reader’s) ability to understand a scene.  He writes that many times actors or directors may have to change part of a scene in order for it to make sense, Best then questions how this can be shown in electronic media for the reader.

Best first explains why using electronic media is more beneficial than strictly print:

One important difference between the electronic and the print text is, of course,the capacity of the electronic medium to go beyond text: to provide examples of the interaction of text and performance – on stage and film – and to show how each illuminates the other (Pg. 269).

Best is essentially explaining that one can actually show what is taking place, as opposed to merely describing the performance.  In online text, one can create hyperlinks to the different versions of the scene, so the reader can also see how it has been acted out.  He explains that using digital media is the most efficient and effective way to express the different ways a scene can be constructed.

These elements make an online, hypertext Shakespeare archive especially alluring.  The archive opens up many opportunities for students and academic scholars to further their understanding of Shakespeare’s works.

Shakespeare’s Archive

Shakespeare worked from an archive too, the concept of remix is not new, just the use of the word “remix.”  Romeo and Juliet is easily the most well-known piece of Shakespeare.  It is also fairly common knowledge that it is not an original story by Shakespeare.  According to the Riverside Shakespeare Anthology, the first remenents of Romeo and Juliet comes from Ephesiaca, where sleeping potion is used as an escape from a forced marriage.  Next, Masuccio of Salerno combines this concept with star-crossed lovers in Il Novellino.  Luigi da Porto adds the setting, Verona, and the names for the feuding families.  He also adds Franciscan Lorenzo, creating almost the exact story we now know through Shakespeare.  “Shakespeare’s direct source was, however, none of these, but a poem by Aruthur Brooke, based on Boiastuau and published in 1562,” (Shakespeare, Evans & Tobin 1101).  Brooke is “kinder” to his lovers and the relationship last longer.  Shakespeare’s remix of the story includes the harsher tone.  The major ways in which Shakespeare remixed the story is by placing it in a play and his famous use of iambic pentameter.

Information of this kind can be found concerning a multitude of Shakespeare’s works.  It may be helpful to students if they understand that Shakespeare was a remixer.  The reason he is well-recognized is his mastery of language, the eloquence in which he tells these stories.  As he remixed works to create his masterpieces, many others have remixed his works.

Early Remixes of Shakespeare

Charles and Mary Lamb’s “Tales from Shakespeare” is arguable the earliest documented form of Shakespeare’s works being remixed. The brother and sister duo worked for Thomas Hodgkins to create children’s books from Shakespeare’s works. The book was published in 1807, with only Charles being credited.  It is now known Mary also worked on many of the stories (Lamb iii-v).

The method in which the pair used to create these stories is important to understand. They actively avoided using language that was included in the English vocabulary after Shakespeare’s time.  It is known that Mary primarily worked on the comedies and Charles primarily worked on the tragedies.  The English histories and Roman plays were left untouched by the two (Lamb v-x).  Charles maintains the themes and the period language, but steers away from creating a dialogue; he works strictly in narrative.  Mary’s remixes are more conversational, although the introduction justifies this remix by saying the works she remixed were more difficult.

Modern Shakespeare Remixes

Remixes of Shakespeare have progressed through the centuries.  In the eighteenth-century, neo-classists started to make adaptions of their own to Shakespeare’s works.  John Dennis qualifies his remix of Coriolanus by saying “he was opposed to preserving the unities at the cost of ‘offending all Common Sense,’” (Branam 21).  Dennis wrote The Invader of the Country by combining six of Shakespeare’s ten scenes to create his first act.  Dennis also changed the location in some of the scenes.  Creating an atmosphere of unity (Branam 21-22).

With the introduction of film, there was also a new form of remix introduced. Romeo + Juliet, which was released in 1996, is an example of a remixed Shakespeare on film.  The era in which the play takes place is where the major aspect of remix takes place.  They speak directly from the Romeo and Juliet script by William Shakespeare.

Improvisation is another form of remix which has become popular in recent times. Vigjay Iyer argues that improvisation should be regards as “identical with what we call experience.”  He further explains that through this definition there is not a difference between what we experience as humans and improvisation.  We are always improvising. He also explains that some improvisation can be considered good or bad, like saving someone from danger or harming someone. Iyer says, “In other words, you might say that there are degrees, layers or levels to what we call “improvisation.” There’s a primal level at which we learn how to just be in the world, and then there’s another level at which we’re responding to conditions that are thrust upon us.”

Paul Miller stated that digital media is “not necessarily about the process per se, it’s about never saying that there’s something that’s finished.  Once something’s digital, essentially you’re looking at versions.  Anything can be edited, transformed, and completely made into new things.” This interpretation of improvisation is more embraceable as it seems a bit more definable.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company has been in existence since 2005 and performs every Friday night in Chicago. I think this is an interesting example of Miller’s interpretation of improvisation.  The actors are creating new work based upon something old: in this case, it is the style and speech of Shakespeare. This is a contrast from working solely from Shakespeare’s scripts. Which leave little room for improvisation.  While there is still a bit of space built into the script for improvisation, but not an extensive build up.

How to use Shakespeare in the Classroom

As technology improves, there are more and more ways in which remix can be used in education. In “Utopian Plagiarism, Hypertextuality, and Electronic Cultural Production” released by the Critical Art Ensemble, they state:

This is the age of the recombinant: recombinant bodies, recombinant gender, recombinant texts, recombinant culture. Looking back through the privileged frame of hindsight, one can argue that the recombinant has always been key in the development of meaning and invention; recent extraordinary advances in electronic technology have called attention to the recombinant both in theory and in practice (for example, the use of morphing in video and film).

As remix or “recombination” becomes more and more prevalent in society, it would be a disservice for the pedagogy of education not to incorporate this very idea. In the same way experiential learning has become a component of many educational pedagogies, remix should also play a role. Remix offers a new way for students to learn; generally a very hands-on approach can be used. Remix can make some things more accessible to students, like in aforementioned case of Shakespeare. It also can turn something which seems old and worn out into something more exciting and interesting. Remix also unpacks the technologies in a way; to create a remix, one must often break it into many smaller pieces.

The use of remix in education is much different than the use of remix in a more corporate sense. Ideally, money should not be the driving factor behind an education, which is a tangent I could speak on for hours. Educational remix should make learning more fun and make the students more invested, as they are able to put a personal spin on a piece of literature which may seem so distant and out of touch.

A Remixed Lesson Plan

The following is a lesson plan teachers and professors could use after the website is created.  Anything in italics are the notes I would use as the professor of this lecture and assignment.

First, assign the students Act V, Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, short readings from Navas, and the videos from Ferguson.  The students will already have read the rest of the play.  It would not be assigned in one piece, but in multiple, smaller assignments.

Then teach a lesson on the history of Shakespeare’s texts and the lack of source text. This lecture should also include ideas from Navas and Ferguson.  Shakespeare initially created plays, actors would have their own editions of the play, which often underwent changes, but there was not master script for his plays.  It seems that he never intended they be published.  So, this means there is no text we can say with certainty is the centered (master) text.  This archive has been created to help us understand the fluidity of Shakespeare’s text.  The first folios were created by Shakespeare’s friends and contemporaries after he died.  They are often attributed as the most accurate.  Theatrical versions of the plays may capture what Shakespeare had in mind more than anything else.  Ideas from Navas and Ferguson will include sampling, copy, transform, and combine.

Now, the students will access the e-edition, (the remix/e-edition website which is the focus of this paper) and write a short blog post on the experience.  The blog posts should contain information about how they navigated the website and which links they inspected.  It should explain what they learned about Shakespeare, hopefully that he left some pieces of the play rather ambiguous and up to the director (him, in most cases) to decide.  Students should also note how different the first folio and Arden seem to be structured, yet they both contain the play.  Once class reconvenes, discuss the blogs and the experience in the same way they were discussed on the blog. 

Have students pick the text and video clip they imagine to be the most appropriate portrayal of the scene.  This does not necessarily mean period appropriate, but appropriate to the aura of the text.  Once they pick, have them compare the two.  See if they find differences or similarities that are notable, specifically, how they have been remixed. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the text will not play as apparent an effect as the video.  Students will need to defend their choice in video by explaining how the costume, background, actors, etc. seem to portray the play in a way that honors the themes and narrative.

Now the students will be given their major assignment.  In small groups the students will create their own remixes of the scene.  The will take into account stage direction, costuming, props, and language.  After each group gives performance, they will explain the reasons for their interpretation and entertain questions. They will not be graded on ability to memorize lines or act. They will be graded on understanding of text, ability to cite sources for their remixes, and explain what their most significant changes were .The students should be able to defend their choices by talking about how they understood the themes and narrative.  They should reference back to their experience using the archive and explain anything which translated across all media.  Ultimately, the students will need to have an academic reason for every decision they made concerning the scene they created.

Finalizing Shakespeareremixed.com

After researching education, Shakespeare, and remix, I have found what I believe to be the appropriate purpose for Shakespeareremixed.com. The website should be used as an educational resource.  Students should be able to easily understand there is more to Shakespeare than the workbooks teachers (occasionally) use instead of teaching.  Students should use professional examples of remix from the website to help them shape their own remixes of Shakespeare.  Shakespeare should be an experience.  Shakespeare should not live only in the Read-Only Culture.  It belongs in the Read-Write Culture as well.

Shakespeareremixed.com should house a hypertext, e-edition for students to work from; from the website, students can see the multiple versions of Shakespeare’s works: first folios, performed plays, film, etc.  They can choose to use this as a tool or as a place to showcase their own remixed works through the use of forums.

Works Cited

Avery, Bruce. “You Don’t Know Jack: Engaging the Twenty-First-Century Student with Shakespeare’s Plays.” Pedagogy 11.1 (2011): 135-152. Project MUSE. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Best, Michael. “Standing In Rich Place: Electrifying The Multiple-Text Edition Or, Every Text Is Multiple.” College Literature 36.1 (2009): 26-39. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

Best, Michael. “The Text of Performance and the Performance of Text in the Electronic Edition – Springer.” The Text of Performance and the Performance of Text in the Electronic Edition – Springer. Language Resources and Evaluation, 01 Aug. 2002. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

Branam, George Curtis. Eighteenth-century Adaptations of Shakespearean Tragedy.Berkeley: University of California, 1956. Print.

Brindley, Susan. Teaching English. London: Routledge, 1993. Print.

Ferguson, Kerbie. “Everything Is a Remix Part 1: Watch It Now.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Oct. 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmwwjikTHxw>.

Ferguson, Kerbie. “Everything Is a Remix Part 2.” YouTube. YouTube, 02 Feb. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-HuenDPZw0>.

Ferguson, Kerbie. “Everything Is a Remix Part 3.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 June 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq5D43qAsVg>.

Ferguson, Kerbie. “Everything Is a Remix Part 4.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAmmtCJxJJY>.

Ferguson, Kerbie. “Everything Is a Remix.” Everything Is a Remix. N.p., 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <http://everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/>.

Hirsch, B. D. (2011), The Kingdom has been Digitized: Electronic Editions of Renaissance Drama and the Long Shadows of Shakespeare and Print. Literature Compass, 8: 568–591.

Irvine, Dr. Martin. “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A Model for Generative Combinatoriality.” Abstract. The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies(n.d.): n. pag. Print.

Iyer, Vijay, and Paul D. Miller. “Improvising Digital Culture.” Criticalimprov.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

Kastan, David Scott. “From Codex to Computer; Or, Presence of Mind.” Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 2001. 78-92. Print.

Lamb, Charles, and Mary Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare: For the Use of Young Persons, with an Introductory Sketch. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1894. Print.

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

“Mission Statement.” Common Core State Standards Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.corestandards.org/>

Navas, Eduardo. “Remix Theory » Remix Defined.” Remix Theory RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.

Navas, Eduardo. Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling. Wien: Springer, 2012.Uncopy.net. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://uncopy.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/navas-remixtheory.pdf>.

Shakespeare, William, G. Blakemore Evans, and J. J. M. Tobin. The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print.

“The Improvised Shakespeare Company: About.” The Improvised Shakespeare Company: About. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Dir. Baz Luhrmann. By Craig Pearce. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Jesse Bradford, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Miriam Margolyes, Harold Perrineau, Christina Pickles, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Rudd, Paul Sorvino, Diane Venora, and M. Emmet Walsh. Released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 1996. DVD.

The Earliest Remix

When one thinks of remix, they often make the mistake of only considering more technologically-advanced methods of remix.  Yet, one must understand that remixing is ever-present in the humanities.  Works are reimagined over and over, creating new pieces which are then, once again, recreated.  Shakespeare’s works are no exception. In a later post, Shakespeare’s very own remixes will be discussed.

Charles and Mary Lamb’s ”Tales from Shakespeare” is arguable the earliest documented form of Shakespeare’s works being remixed. The brother and sister duo worked for Thomas Hodgkins to create children’s books from Shakespeare’s works. The book was published in 1807, with only Charles being credited.  It is now known Mary also worked on many of the stories (Lamb iii-v).

The method in which the pair used to create these stories is important to understand. They actively avoided using language that was included in the English vocabulary after Shakespeare’s time.  It is known that Mary primarily worked on the comedies and Charles primarily worked on the tragedies.  The English histories and Roman plays were left untouched by the two (Lamb v-x).

To see how the two set together to remix Shakespeare, I will give reviews of a story which was altered by each of the two authors.

Macbeth (Charles Lamb)

One can assume Charles wrote the Macbeth interpretation, as he is credited with writing the tragedies.  In it, C. Lamb writes:

The king entered well-pleased with the place, and not less so with the attentions and respect of his honoured hostess, lady Macbeth, who had the art of covering treacherous purposes with smiles; and could look like the innocent flower, while she was indeed the serpent under it (Lamb 163).

This passage works in correlation with the archive he is working from in which Lady Macbeth plays a disparaging character.  One is brought to this assumption in far more words, but it is fully understood.

The entirety of the story is very easy to understand, yet keeps the verbiage used in the Elizabethan period.  This is a testament to the work of Charles, as many argue the difficulty in understanding Shakespeare’s works is the language. The main themes remain the same throughout the story.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mary Lamb)

It is stated in the prelude that Mary was responsible for completing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Mary relies more heavily upon dialogue than Charles.   This may help us understand more about the way Shakespeare wrote.  Upon reading the two stories, it makes sense that Mary would rely more heavily upon dialogue because it seems as if tragedies like Macbeth are more theme-based, whereas the comedies may be more based upon entertainment.  This is not to say the comedies do not contain themes, they are just not as prevalent within the story.

After reading from “Tales from Shakespeare,” I can say in earnest how useful remixes can be in teaching Shakespeare’s works.  This remix makes the stories easier for a younger audience to understand, yet still contains the vocabulary which the creators of school curriculums are so insistent upon.

 

Lamb, Charles, and Mary Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare: For the Use of Young Persons, with an Introductory Sketch. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1894. Print.

Remixing the classroom

How can remix methods change the classroom?  How can remixing Shakespeare be more effective than standard teaching methods?

Standard teaching methods I experienced during high school were, for the most part, ineffective.  The most tedious example I can share is reading an act of a play in a workbook which was then followed by a number of questions, which were primarily vocabulary.  While understanding the vocabulary is important, the entire theme was lost on most of the students.  Many of the students in this particular class lost interest.  The entire point of studying Shakespeare was lost on them.

The Common Core Standards, which have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia, include Shakespeare in their high school literacy program.  According to the standards a student should be able to, “Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text,” by the time they are a senior (corestandards.org).  In Teaching English by Susan Brindley, she recommends teaching Shakespeare’s works actively, instead of students learning Shakespeare in a more solitary manner.  She recommends teachers see his works as a script instead of a mere sheet of text. With Brindley’s recommendations in mind, it seems remixing could be complimentary to her ideas.

Lesson plan ideas:

  • Cut and paste remixes: After reading the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, give the students printed sheets with the text on them.  Tell the students to cut out the individual words, put them in a plastic bag and mix them up, and then recombine the selection.  Given their knowledge of the vocabulary, can they put together sentences that make sense, but are different from the original scene? This will be a great way for students to gain a greater understanding of the vocabulary used.
  • Once students have read the entirety of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, they will create their own play within the play.  They will work in groups, using the information they already have from the play to create another play within the play. Not only will they write the mini play, but they will then perform it.

These are just a few of the ways students could benefit from the use of remix in the classroom.  Students should actively participate in their education and teachers should encourage this.

 

Brindley, Susan. Teaching English. London: Routledge, 1993. Print.

“Mission Statement.” Common Core State Standards Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.corestandards.org/>.

Improving Shakespeareremixed.com

As I have researched remix theory, culture surrounding Shakespeare, and consequently, remixed works of Shakespeare, I have compiled a way to make Shakespeareremixed.com more effective.  The goal of the website is to create a community of Shakespeare remixers and to be an educational tool for teachers who need to find new ways to teach Shakespeare.  Some of the changes I have in mind are purely logistics, but many have come from research I have completed.

Home Page: The home page should I have a more clear description of the purposes of the website.  It should also house a running feed of information coming from different Shakespeare social media sites.

Social Media: I will add a social media aspect to the website with a Twitter account, Facebook page, and possibly an Instagram account.  This may be the easiest way to create buzz around the website.

Fanfiction: As I was researching Shakespeare remixes, I came across a rather expansive collection of fanfiction, but there were not any website dedicated to Shakespeare and fanfiction.  Most websites which contained fanfiction were fanfiction databases, where there were many different genres – Shakespeare being one of many.

Analysis: At this point, the website is mostly dedicated to amateur remixes.  It seems like a huge oversight to forego the addition of professional remixes.  The website may also act as a center for the analysis of what most would consider professional remixes.  This could be very useful for the educational aspect of the website as teachers may use the analysis of remixes to determine the right materials for their classrooms.

Increased Educational Materials: The website only has a few homework assignments and forums for teachers and students to discuss their projects.  I would like to add more to the educational side of the website.  This includes the aforementioned analysis of professional Shakespeare remixes, like big-budget movies, as well as listing places to visit Shakespeare remixes.  This should be a malleable aspect of the website.

Reorganize Remixes: I need to find a more effective way to organize the remixes on the website.  There is currently a tab per piece of literature, but this is a bit overwhelming and not complimentary to the users experience.

The end goal is for Shakespeareremixed.com to be an easy-to-use website which will both build a community of remixers and act as a tool for educators.

Remix & Education

Not only do I expect my website to offer an area for a community of Shakespeare remixers to gather, I want to use the space as an educational tool.  It would be naïve to argue that remix methods would not be a useful tool to be incorporated into the educational pedagogy. Although some tools may not appear to be remix at first look, it is just a matter of understanding the tool and you will see that it is a remix. Shakespeare did not write his plays with footnotes explaining what words mean; this is a form of remix we take completely for granted. Although this is a menial version of remix, it shows how we have used remix in education much longer than most people realize.

As technology improves, there are more and more ways in which remix can be used in education. In “Utopian Plagiarism, Hypertextuality, and Electronic Cultural Production” released by the Critical Art Ensemble, they state:

This is the age of the recombinant: recombinant bodies, recombinant gender, recombinant texts, recombinant culture. Looking back through the privileged frame of hindsight, one can argue that the recombinant has always been key in the development of meaning and invention; recent extraordinary advances in electronic technology have called attention to the recombinant both in theory and in practice (for example, the use of morphing in video and film).

As remix or “recombination” becomes more and more prevalent in society, it would be a disservice for the pedagogy of education not to incorporate this very idea. In the same way experiential learning has become a component of many educational pedagogies, remix should also play a role. Remix offers a new way for students to learn; generally a very hands-on approach can be used. Remix can make some things more accessible to students, like in aforementioned case of Shakespeare. It also can turn something which seems old and worn out into something more exciting and interesting. Remix also unpacks the technologies in a way; to create a remix, one must often break it into many smaller pieces.

The use of remix in education is much different than the use of remix in a more corporate sense. Ideally, money should not be the driving factor behind an education, which is a tangent I could speak on for hours. Educational remix should make learning more fun and make the students more invested, as they are able to put a personal spin on a piece of literature which may seem so distant and out of touch.

On my website, I have added a few educational portions.  In the forums section, I have created a forum for teachers to share ideas.  I have also added a section for students to post questions, ideas, etc. about Shakespeare. There is a section where I add different assignments for the students to complete and then post them on to the website as well.

References

The Critical Art Ensemble. “Utopian Plagiarism, Hypertextuality, and Electronic Cultural Production.” Georgetown.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2013. <https://docs.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=Z2VvcmdldG93bi5lZHV8cmVtaXh8Z3g6MTg2Y2FjYWFiOWQyZjhjOA>

Audience Interaction with Shakespeare’s Works

To determine the effectiveness of a website and social media which specializes in the remixing of Shakespeare’s works, first one must have a background in the typical interaction of the audience with Shakespeare’s works.

Elizabethan England

Viewing Plays: Performances took place in open-roof theaters with thrust stages. The crowds paid the modern-day equivalent to a penny to stand and more to sit in the seats.  The more high-profile audience members would pick seats which put them right next to the stage, making it difficult to see the play, but very easy for everyone else to see them. Unlike today’s theater goers, people were not quiet during the plays.  They would socialize throughout the play, with the play acting as a mere background to their conversations.

Now

One should be familiar with the typical theater-viewing experience now, but the ways we are exposed to Shakespeare have changed.  His works are now part of nearly every high school student’s academic experience.  One can be exposed to Shakespeare’s works in many different ways, not just the theater – the obvious being reading the plays for one’s self.  There are many new, not-so obvious ways Shakespeare fans can now be exposed to his works, even actively participating in the creation of his works.

Now, the internet has revolutionized our entire way of living.  The way we access Shakespeare’s works has not been spared from this revolution.  There are many websites dedicated to Shakespeare, most being academic resources.  There are also many fan websites.  These are primarily the websites which are beneficial to this project.  Most of these websites are fan club websites, which means they play host to a number of different fan clubs of writers, musicians, etc. These websites do contain material which fans have remixed.

Memes and other edited pictures, which are more similar to bricolage are very common to find on these websites.  Many of the memes show the fan’s love of Shakespeare and disgust with modern literature.  The bricolage work often features pictures from plays or films and they are accompanied by a quote from within a play.

I am extremely interested in the notion of fanfiction.  Many of the forums associated with the Shakespeare fan websites contain questions from teachers who are concerned how to teach, questions from students which ask why they need to learn Shakespeare, links to the actual plays, and lastly, and I find most interesting, there are many links to fanfiction.  Fans of Shakespeare have created their own homages to the great writer.  While some of the fanfiction is continuation of plays Shakespeare created, many others are taking his plays and writing them from a different angle.  There is literature like “Star Wars – How Shakespeare Would Have Created It.”

There are many other ways we consume Shakespeare’s works.  There are many twitter accounts dedicated to him and numerous Facebook fan pages. Fans post videos on Youtube and create Pinterest boards completely dedicated to this. Yet, I am most interested in the more fan-based websites because I can see what fans are doing to remix Shakespeare’s works.  I will use social media to advertise the website, but it seems as this is not the avenue in which to create my remixes.  From seeing what other people are interested in and posting on fan webpages, I feel I should add sections for bricolage and fanfiction to my website.  This may create even more activity on the page.

 

Sources

“Shakespeare Fans.” Group (1072 Members). Good Reads, n.d. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/303-shakespeare-fans>.

“Shakespeare’s Globe: Globe Education / Shakespeare’s Globe.” Shakespeare’s Globe: Globe Education / Shakespeare’s Globe. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/education>.

“William Shakespeare.” Fan Club. Fan Pop, n.d. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/william-shakespeare>.

Defining Remix: Part 2

In a previous post, I stated:

For the purposes of this course, I will take Lessig’s broader interpretation of a remix to be true.  I believe something is a remix if the original’s aura is still recognizable, yet there has been a distinguishable change.  I think these changes can best be understood using Navas’ extended remix, selective remix, reflexive remix, or regenerative remix. If the item I am studying does not fall into one of these four categories, then it shall not be considered a remix.

While this is the basis for a definition of remix, it is still rather vague, much like most other definitions of remix.

First, I will delve further into Benjamin’s concept of aura.  I stated the aura should still be recognizable, but also contain a distinguishable change.  To clarify, this means the archive should be recognizable as the archive is the basis for the remix.  One should also be able to determine what changes have been made to the remix.  It should not be a mere copy of the archive, as this is not a remix. I do not doubt Benjamin would argue that the aura is changed markedly by the reproduction, but I do not find this change elicits the label of remix.

In Professor Irvine’s abstract, “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A model for Generative Cominatoriality,” he writes of placing ideas into the “combinatorial conceptual software.”  While he specifically cites music in his example, it makes me question what would happen if I were to place Shakespeare’s works into the same model.  Professor Irvine writes, “The meaning of a remix emerges from the symbolic (re)uses of the quotational units in a new context of meanings, not from their prior disquotational function in other expression.”  How could this be used in context to Shakespeare?

Using a cut-and-paste style remix, which I have previously completed, I will attempt to view Shakespeare’s Macbeth through the aforementioned lens.

The Original: Just the Lady Macbeth role before being cut-up

Yet here’s a spot.
Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?–
What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’
that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
this starting.
Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so
pale.–I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he
cannot come out on’s grave.
To bed, to bed! there’s knocking at the gate:
come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s
done cannot be undone.–To bed, to bed, to bed!

My cut-up: The Ramblings of a Murderer

Cannot oh! Of all what’s to come?
Out done, there’s thought undone.
Bed, power damned.
Then, yet, more –fie!
Wife: my smell she have with is him.
Afeard?
You account?
Man: Your thane. Me blood pale.
Here’s still nightgown gate.
Arabia perfumes murky lord;
One: that need when knocking.
Tell Banquo’s hands the soldier come.
Your burried;
Come, this, no time can (will) do’t.
What o’ you will fear.
Who these spot!
To be old.
The… to again come… much Fife.
Give here’s to say!
Oh’s hand to bed!
–What?
We had spot.
Cannot clean?
Is grave ‘tis hands bed.
I knows put –no– Hell
A wash, why?
That: Fie this!
To bed!
Hand and not the blood.
Where call in a two:
Starting have of now?
Bed!
Would he sweeten lord?
Little out, it, so mar.
Your ne’er look on.
I–yet more come.
All on…
Who to not be?
–Yet of none out.
Oh, the at my –our–o’…
So, to the blood.

 

I chose this specific moment from the play because it contains one of the most iconic lines from the entire play, “Yet here’s a spot. Out damned spot! Out I say.” This new recombination of words gives them new meaning.  Some parts of this completely random remix did not pan out, but there were many parts which helped convey the breakdown Lady Macbeth was experiencing at the time.  People who are familiar with the Shakespeare and Macbeth archive should be able to recognize the importance of the scene, but it seems as if the importance of the scene (in the remixed version) is based around the concept of bed and possibly sleep, as opposed to the original which seems to primarily be based upon blood and cleanliness.  In line with Professor Irvine’s work, a new meaning is formed from the remix.

http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/articles/Irvine-Routledge-Remix-Abstract.pdf

Shakespeare, William. “Macbeth: Entire Play.” Macbeth: Entire Play. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2013.

 


Comments

This is interesting to have an example of remixed text. So now the question is, remixed into what form? genre? concept? purpose (rhetorical, performative?). What we recognized as a (new) remixed artefact always comes framed/packaged as some kind of genre, which can of course be very different from the source text(s). Is this still a quotational remix? The reader needs familiarity or prior disquotational text and its range of cultural symbolic meanings, functions, values, genres. Are those appropriated also?

The remix at the level of genre was recognized in Shakespeare’s day, as in the famous humorous lines in Hamlet (Act 2. Scene II):

LORD POLONIUS
The actors are come hither, my lord.

HAMLET
Buz, buz!

LORD POLONIUS
Upon mine honour,–

HAMLET
Then came each actor on his ass,–

LORD POLONIUS
The best actors in the world, either for tragedy,
comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical,
historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-
comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or
poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the
liberty, these are the only men.

Benjamin

In “The World of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” by Walter Benjamin, he speaks about the aspect of aura – the aura of an artwork is the tradition.  According to Benjamin, the aura of an artwork is the “tradition.” Tradition, not used in the popular context, refers to the unique circumstances surrounding the artwork. The aura of an artwork could be largely based upon the time the actual painting was produced or the experience of the audience of a live theater performance. Benjamin states, “…that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition.” Benjamin is claiming that a mechanical reproduction of an object, such as a postcard of the Mona Lisa, no longer bears its aura because it is no longer tied to its origins.

How does remixing affect the aura of a work of art?  Different kinds of remixes affect a work of art in different ways.  Generally, the aura is simply changed, but it may diminish in effectiveness depending upon the way it is remixed.

An example which may help to better expand the understanding of this loss of aura is the difference between seeing a play and watching a movie, both of which may have the same script and even use the same props and costumes, yet the aura is not evident in the same manner when one approaches the film. Even if an audience were to attend the same play multiple times, they would not have the same experience every time.  Live theater arguable portrays the most aura because of this.

If one goes to see a film, they do not see a different performance each time, it is an exact copy. The aura also changes as the actors are performing to a different audience: In cinema, the actors are performing for a camera, not the live audience the theater actors are entertaining. This changes the actors’ approaches to their performances.

A side effect of this may be cinema actors turning themselves into commodities — our beloved celebrities.  When art becomes a commodity, this is when the presence of aura generally diminishes.  People are no longer analyzing the art as art, but as a form of payment or something they want for monetary reasons.

As Shakespeare’s plays were ever changing, Benjamin would argue that the aura surrounding them cannot

 


 Comments:

It’s good to think through the issues that Benjamin noticed in the 1930s and now extrapolate to our hybrid digital-analog culture and other modes of reproducibility. (See the chain of readings and arguments in Week 6 of the Cultural Hybridity course: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/CCTP725/CCTP725-syllabus.html.

“Aura” has been a contested idea from Benjamin. It’s a very Romantic concept (assumes unique, “authentic” origins for artists and artworks, a work having been touched by the hand of the maker like a saint’s relic). Yes, our sense of “authenticity” is different in time-based media and artefacts (a play vs. a movie or TV version), but we are now used to everything being mediated. But Benjamin’s approach still pays off for thinking through the question of the technical means of reproducibility and resulting cultural/social distribution and reception of cultural works. Use his questions and problems but applied to digital culture: you can rewrite it as: “The work of art in the era of its digital reproducibility.” What does that open up?

Beware using the term “commodity” generally. All cultural goods–artworks, texts, movies, media–are part of an economy, and cultural goods rely on symbolic value (see Pierre Bourdieu on this important issue).

For other background on remix questions, here’s the link to the abstract of my chapter on remix and dialogism that will appear in the Routledge Companion to Remix Studies.

–MI

 

 

Shakespeare, Postmodernism & Postmodernity

In Ihab Hassan’s Postmodernism to Postmodernity, Hassan differentiates between the two.  He refers to postmodernism as “the cultural sphere, especially literature, philosophy, and the various arts, including architecture.  He goes on to explain postmodernity as “geopolitical scheme, less order than disorder, which has emerged in the last decades.”

 

He further explains that postmodernism is essentially a “cultural phenomenon” which is best applied toward consumers who spend substantial amounts of money.  He says that postmodernity is “the inclusive geopolitical process,” meaning the conflicts of the world play out online.  Postmodernism is much more familiar in Western countries like the United States and Japan.  Important to remember is that postmodernism is not monochronological in nature, rather it is polychronological.  It works as a category.

 

Hassan claims that postmodernism turns into postmodernity.  On this topic, he sees a somewhat bleak future.  He does think there is a way to avoid such a bleak outlook.  Hassan states, “But I do think that, instead of wishing or talking the distinction away, we can make it more conscious of itself in our lives. This requires absolute candor, the courage to speak the truth to ourselves and not only to others.”

 

As a part of my project, I have claimed that remixes of Shakespeare may be used as a great resource for teaching Shakespeare’s works.  I have stated that remixing Shakespeare can make the language and ideas much easier to understand for students.  In “Teaching Shakespeare’s Macbeth: A Postmodern Computer-Mediated Approach,” Edwin Creely makes a similar statement.

 

In Creely’s research, he uses the internet as a platform for students to approach Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Although his research is a bit outdated, the same concepts still apply.  Ideas which are part of our everyday life are only conceptualized in Creely’s research.  His assumptions, for the most part, are accurate.  He speaks of the possibility of a community via website, which is very similar to what I have already created.

 

How is this a postmodern version of Shakespeare?  It is Shakespeare mediated in a different way.  As a high school student, the entirety of my Shakespeare experience took place in book and on paper with pencil, with the rare exception of typing a paper in word processor. There was not a community built around Shakespeare.  The transition of postmodernism to postmodernity did not take place.  By using a website to create a shared space where people can create their own communities, this transition is possible.

 

References

Creely, Edwin. “TEACHING SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH: A POSTMODERN COMPUTER-MEDIATED APPROACH | Edwin Creely – Academia.edu.”TEACHING SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH: A POSTMODERN COMPUTER-MEDIATED APPROACH | Edwin Creely – Academia.edu. N.p., June 1996. Web. 30 May 2013.

 

Hassan, Ihab. “From Postmodernism To Postmodernity: The Local/Global Context.” From Postmodernism To Postmodernity: The Local/Global Context. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.

Improvising Digital Culture

In “Improvising Digital Culture,” Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) and Vijay Iyer discuss two contrasting positions concerning the definition of improvisation, primarily in context to digital media.  Although the two do use music (the saxophone) as a point of reference during various parts of the discussion.

Iyer argues that improvisation should be regards as “identical with what we call experience.”  He further explains that through this definition there is not a difference between what we experience as humans and improvisation.  We are always improvising. He also explains that some improvisation can be considered good or bad, like saving someone from danger or harming someone. Iyer says, “In other words, you might say that there are degrees, layers or levels to what we call “improvisation.” There’s a primal level at which we learn how to just be in the world, and then there’s another level at which we’re responding to conditions that are thrust upon us.”

My question concerning Iyer’s work: Is there any point at which something is not an improvisation? Is an actor reciting lines from a play improvising?  It seems as if there is some point where improvisation is not entirely a part of our life. While I do agree many parts of our lives are complete improvisation, I question acts such as following orders or reading something word for word as improvisation.  Does doing something someone has already predetermined create something other than improvisation?

Paul Miller stated that digital media is “not necessarily about the process per se, it’s about never saying that there’s something that’s finished.  Once something’s digital, essentially you’re looking at versions.  Anything can be edited, transformed, and completely made into new things.” This interpretation of improvisation is more embraceable as it seems a bit more definable.

The following link will lead readers to a clip of the Improvised Shakespeare Company:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rWPE2X-8Mg

The Improvised Shakespeare Company has been in existence since 2005 and performs every Friday night in Chicago. I think this is an interesting example of Miller’s interpretation of improvisation.  The actors are creating new work based upon something old: in this case, it is the style and speech of Shakespeare. This is a contrast from working solely from Shakespeare’s scripts. Which leave little room for improvisation.  While there is still a bit of space built into the script for improvisation, but not an extensive build up.

I will look into the history of Shakespeare improv and other stand up improv in Thursday’s post.

Bibliography

Iyer, Vijay, and Paul D. Miller. “Improvising Digital Culture.” Criticalimprov.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

Obbvideos. “The Improvised Shakespeare Company.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 July 2010. Web. 28 May 2013.

“The Improvised Shakespeare Company: About.” The Improvised Shakespeare Company: About. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

 

Murray

In Hamlet and the Holodeck, Janet Murray considers the role of digital media in the realm of literature.  It becomes evident that Murray is referring to the notion that computers have the potential to completely reshape the way narratives are consumed. Murray often refers to video games as a strong starting point for the combination of narrative and digital media. One of the most notable observations Murray makes is about agency.  At what point does the user become the author if they are in a digital work – one where manipulation is more than possible.  On page 152 she states, “They build simulated cities, try out combat strategies, trace a unique path through a labyrinthine web, or even prevent a murder, but unless the imaginary world is nothing more than a costume trunk of empty avatars, all of the interactor’s possible performances will have been called into being by the original author.”  She is essentially stating that those playing the game can manipulate the initial creation as much as an actor may when they are on stage.  He or she can forget their lines, but this person will have trouble creating a new character off the top of his or her head.  The author still creates the framework for what is created. Simply put, “The interactor is not the author of the digital narrative, although the interactor can experience one of the most exciting aspects of artistic creation – the thrill of exerting power over enticing and plastic materials.  This is not authorship but agency,” (Murray 153).

The use of video games to create a digital narrative could be incredibly beneficial to the English field, especially those that are studying Shakespeare.  While many youth find Shakespeare to be completely unattainable, breaking Shakespeare’s works down into something more familiar, like a video game, could make Shakespeare’s works easy to understand.  Research shows that the idea of creating educational Shakespeare games has been considered, but there have been no real results.  A webpage which had both stable financial support and a decent product was completely shut down.  Why isn’t this working?  Are schools slow to accept these practices?  Are the games not reaching the target user?

I was able to find one game, which was not really educational, based upon Shakespeare’s works.  In “Romeo,” we meet our hero, Romeo, who is trying to save Juliet.  The game is set up as a journey story, but does not actually create a story.  Essentially, Romeo has to traverse in an environment similar to “Super Mario Bros. 3” searching for the roses.  At the end of every level, you run into a cartoon Shakespeare who tells you “congratulations, you have completed another level.”  The game is not accurate in the narrative aspect of Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo actually saves Juliet, they have a happily ever after in the game.  This is the very aspect of the story which makes it such an iconic piece of literature.

 


What is remix?

Defining Remix

When one is trying to understand what remix is, he or she will find many different interpretations of the word.  Two of the most prominent voices in this argument are Lawrence Lessig and Eduardo Navas. Lessig and Navas seem to agree that there must be an original for there to be a remix.

Lessig speaks in depth about ownership rights of the pieces which are made because of the original.  Lessig uses the terms “Read/Write” (RW) Culture and “Read Only” (RO) Culture.  He argues there are both positive and negative outcomes to both.  In RW Culture, creativity is encouraged and more freedom is attainable.  In RO Culture, the creator of the original is recognized.  He says the major problem facing remix culture is that the question is no longer how can we nurture creativity, but how can the profit be maximized.  Finally, he writes that we should be more concerned with protecting the distribution channels, instead of copyright.

Navas writes, “Today, Remix (the activity of taking samples from pre-existing materials to combine them into new forms according to personal taste) has been extended to other areas of culture, including the visual arts; it plays a vital role in mass communication, especially on the Internet” (Navas).  He goes on to explain remix in reference to music, which says it is a “reinterpretation” of a song which already exists, which still maintains the aura of the original music.  Navas very specifically points out the role technology plays in remix. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX1S1vqd0Uw

It is my understanding that Navas would not consider this comic book a remix because it is not a digital entity. Yet, Navas would say this film is a remix because it is a digital entity.

For the purposes of this course, I will take Lessig’s broader interpretation of a remix to be true.  I believe something is a remix if the original’s aura is still recognizable, yet there has been a distinguishable change.  I think these changes can best be understood using Navas’ extended remix, selective remix, reflexive remix, or regenerative remix. If the item I am studying does not fall into one of these four categories, than it shall not be considered a remix.

The remixes I create will all be textually based, but I will study historical remixes of Shakespeare done in all media. I want to study if there are any economic challenges to this remixes, like dealing with copyright.

On Thursday, I will further study Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck and any historical reactions to Shakespeare’s works.

Navas, Eduardo. “Remix Theory » Remix Defined.” Remix Theory RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.
Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.
“Sample Pages.” Shakespeare Sample Pages Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.
“The Royal Shakespeare Company Presents: Star Wars.” YouTube. YouTube, 04 May 2013. Web. 21 May 2013