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Online appropriations: collaborative technologies, digital texts, and Shakespeare’s authority

Author(s): Jenni Ramone

Journal: Authorship
ISSN 2034-4643

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Shakespeare | Canon | Authorship | Jenni | Ramone

This article considers the impact of digital technologies on Shakespeare's status as author. Digital technology encourages a more democratic engagement with literature which privileges the reader and thereby moderates the author's powerful hold over their text. As a result, it is to be expected that with the increased availability of digital tools, Shakespeare's status and conventional, universalist readings of his works might decline. Technologies have the potential to open up Shakespeare's works to new kinds of readers: these include academics studying Shakespeare's works perspectives outside the traditional disciplines of literary and performance studies, but also the general public who appropriate Shakespeare when shaping their online identities, or contribute to digital repositories of Shakespeare references. My paper considers the contradiction that while, in theory, digital technologies invite the reader to wrest control from the author, in practice those tools are sometimes used to bolster Shakespeare's universal value and genius. I consider the ultimate effect on Shakespeare's author status when digital technologies are applied to his works, and suggest that one way to measure this might be to explore appropriations of Shakespeare's characters online by individual internet users.

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