An Infinite Variety of Appropriations in American TV Drama
Expanding on her notion of crossmapping, Elisabeth Bronfen has, in recent essays, begun to explore a transhistorical and transmedial traffic (or exchange) between Shakespeare's early modern dramatic imagination and 20th century as well as contemporary media culture.
The book Serial Shakespeare (Manchester UP) banks on the timeliness of the Bard. As much as Shakespeare has always served as an inspiration for the American cultural imaginary, Elisabeth Bronfen's claim is that it is equally fruitful to return to his plays through the lens of Hollywood cinema and contemporary television series
At the same time, bringing the notion of serial reading into play means treating Shakespeare's oeuvre as a set of variations on analogous character configurations, thematic constellations and rhetorical strategies. Individual texts, regulated by rules of genre (comedy, tragedy, romance), play through different psychological, ideological and aesthetic positions, possibilities and outcomes.
To revisit this set of plays in relation to a poetics of seriality is thus to argue, one the one hand, that each individual play, as it shapes cultural concerns into an aesthetic representation, makes use of contrastive correspondences and repetitive sequences within the text. On the other hand, a hermeneutic approach which – bearing comparison with cinematic montage – chooses to serially map one text onto others in the process of tracing such lines of correspondence, itself also has recourse to a performative practice. Meaning is produced in the act of reading serially.