Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PhD fellowship for World Shakespeare Bibliography

Texas A&M University has decided to support the World Shakespeare Bibliography Online by bringing in a PhD student to work on this project full time. This is a really cool resource but much in need of updating. It would be wonderful to get an Arabist into this position!  Details at

Here's the beginning of the announcement:

World Shakespeare Bibliography Online PhD Student Fellowship

The World Shakespeare Bibliography is seeking doctoral fellows interested in early modern literature and/or digital humanities.
The selected fellow will be an incoming PhD student in English at Texas A&M University. The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will serve as a graduate research assistant in the English Department at Texas A&M, which pays a monthly stipend and includes health insurance. The University pays tuition for students holding fellowships and assistantships.
The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will work for the World Shakespeare Bibliography for one year. The fellowship is for nine months, with a strong likelihood of summer support. After the first year, students will be shifted to a graduate teaching assistantship in the English Department, at the same funding level. Students are also eligible for many additional funding opportunities, through the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts, the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, Cushing Memorial Library and Archives and the Melbern C. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research). Graduate assistantships are renewable for a total of five years, contingent on good progress toward the degree.
The successful applicant will have the opportunity to learn about the cutting edge of Shakespeare scholarship and will gain work experience in a longstanding global digital humanities project. Fellows will have the opportunity to work in a vibrant department with strengths in early modern studies and digital humanities. World Shakespeare Bibliography fellows will be encouraged to take advantage of the rare book collection at the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives and opportunities available through the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture. The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will be eligible to apply for funded conference travel, a student exchange to Aberystwyth, Wales, and further training programs such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. Texas A&M is a member of the Folger Institute Consortium, and our students and staff regularly participate in Folger Shakespeare Library events.
Ideal applicants will be strong academic candidates with interest in early modern studies and/or digital humanities. Basic computer skills required: specific training will be given upon arrival. The strongest candidates will be self-motivated, detail-oriented students looking forward to gaining new research skills. Second languages are helpful but not required.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Funding available to attend World Shakespeare Congress

The British Council is supporting some scholarships to attend the congress in the UK this summer. Here's the announcement. Deadline Monday 16 November.  It would be great to see some early-career Arab Shakespeareans there.

Friday, September 25, 2015

More on Shakespeare in Kabul

The show was ten years ago, the first book about it (as this blog reported) was three years ago, and it's still not Arabic-related.  But never mind.  Here's another book:

 Coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Academic article on Arab Shakespeares for British audiences

Happy to report that three years after the theatre festivals it analyzes, the article I co-authored with Saffron Walkling and Raphael Cormack for the Routledge journal Shakespeare is live: 
Margaret Litvin, Saffron Walkling & Raphael Cormack (2015): Full of noises: when “World Shakespeare” met the “ArabSpring.” Shakespeare.

We look from various angles at Ashtar's Richard II, Monadhil Daood's Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad, and APA's Macbeth: Laila and Ben--A Bloody History.
First 50 readers can download an eprint here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Arab Shakespeares at WSC 2016

The World Shakespeare Congress has posted its program for next summer's WSC, to be held in Britain.We have an amazingly diverse set of topics (translation, performance, film, plays, sonnets, sources...) on our Arab Shakespeares panel, and I'm happy to see some dynamic younger scholars joining the conversation.

“Re-Casting Shakespeare: Translations, Adaptations, and Performances Across the Arab World”
Katherine Hennessey (University of Warwick/Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom), Margaret Litvin (Boston University, United States), Graham Holderness (University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom), Rafik Darragi (University of Tunis, Tunisia), David C. Moberly (University of Minnesota, United States), Noha Ibraheem (Cairo University, Egypt), Paulo Horta (New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Monday, August 3, 2015

In Unfair Palestine (Romeo, Juliet, and localization)

Here is the first book I was ever asked to blurb: Tom Sperlinger's just published memoir Romeo and Juliet in Palestine. He was at Al-Quds University in the West Bank for just five months in 2013. It's a pretty good read and (most importantly) tries to be honest about its limits. The Guardian liked it too. A good excerpt was published at Mondoweiss back in 2013.

I find it interesting that most of the students aren't interested in Arab-Jewish Romeo-and-Juliet combos. Their minds run more toward a union between two Palestinians, one with Jerusalem ID and the other with West Bank ID. Isn't that star-cross'd enough?

On the subject of Palestinian adaptations, here's a 2008 film called In Fair Palestine made by high school students at the Ramallah Friends School. Also an intra-Arab story. You can buy it online and watch a clip here:

Of course, there have also been lots of adaptations that take the play in an Arabs-and-Jews direction, including a just-post-Oslo bilingual co-production in Jerusalem by the (Jewish) Khan Theatre and the (Arab) Kasaba Theatre (see, e.g., this admiring Baltimore Sun writeup).

[Update  9/8/15: I just found a video with some excerpts online. Enjoy!]

It has even been done in a comic vein, as in the short falafel musical West Bank Story.

Translator and theatre scholar Avraham Oz, with whom Parviz Partovi and I are co-writing an article on Shakespeare in the Middle East, makes a good point about Romeo and Juliet as a vehicle for Israeli-Palestinian issues:

Whereas Shakespeare makes a point to emphasize that none remembers the origin of the ancient feud between the Montagues and Capulets (not fortuitously omitting the one vague reference to that origin in Brooke’s poem), the cause of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is far from being unknown. If that be the rationale of reading the Shakespearean text, a play such as Troilus and Cressida would better fit the symbolic analogy.
He adds:
When, however, the latter was mounted at the Habima in 1980, Rumanian director David Essrig revived in it his successful production formerly created in Bucharest, and what could have served a topical political allegory for the Middle East conflict reminded one of an East European fable, which was missed by the Israeli audience and removed from stage after a few performances.
So it goes.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Al-Bassam's Arab Shakespeare Trilogy and my two interviews with him

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog a bit. Should have some exciting publication news for you soon.
Meanwhile: Did I forget to mention that Sulayman Al-Bassam's Arab Shakespeare Trilogy came out last fall from Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, comprising the texts to his Al-Hamlet Summit, Richard III: An Arab Tragedy, and The Speaker's Progress? Intro by Graham Holderness. You can get your epub or hard copy direct from Bloomsbury. As you do so, notice that for "theme" they've categorized it under "Conflict, Other Cultures, Society."

Thanks largely to Holderness, subtitled videos of all the plays in the trilogy are available, along with a lot of secondary material including my work, on the Global Shakespeares site.

I've also published two interviews with Al-Bassam recently, a really fun one in the Palgrave collection Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation (adapted from a really fun late-night conversation in Beirut in 2011 and yes, that's his Richard III on the cover, and an updated version of my essay on his trilogy is in the book too)

and a somewhat duller one in the PMLA special issue on Tragedy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Filling in Iraqi Hamlet history

Just came across this article from a year ago (June 2014) by `Awad `Ali on the Iraqi site al-Mu'tamar (in Arabic): Hamlet in the Arab Experimental Experience. A few details on experimental Iraqi Hamlet productions by Hamid Muhammad Jawad (1967) and Salah al-Qasab (1980) as well as the more recent هاملت البابلي (Hamlet of Babel) directed by Muhammad Hussein Habib (2009). In Arabic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hamlet's Trial (offshoot play)

For my own reasons I just Googled غولدنشترن to find out who besides Mamduh `Adwan uses this spelling for Hamlet's friend.  I came across a 2010 PDF script for a offshoot play called Hamlet's Trial, which "takes up where the splendid William Shakespeare left off." By one Ala'a al-Gharbawi.  It's also at this blog.  It includes a very brief Author's Note "for those who have never read Shakespeare's play before."  Anyone have details?  No time to read it now, but maybe you'd like to. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CFP: International Shakes Conference - UMass - September

Call for papers: The 2nd  International Shakespeare Conference: Translation, Adaptation, Performance
"Where in the World is Shakespeare?"
September 18-20, 2015
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA, USA

What makes Shakespeare funny in Kabul? In 2005, Corinne Jaber claimed (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that ?Afghans don't do tragedy.? This idea shaped her production of Love's Labour's Lost, which she staged with the Roy-e-Sabs Troupe in the garden of a Kabul estate formerly occupied by a nobleman 150 years ago. Making Shakespeare's humor ?work? or translate in Anglophone productions is a challenge for many contemporary directors. Making it work in Dari and in a space fraught with war and occupation poses an even more complicated set of challenges. How does such a production raise questions about the comedy genre and what makes something funny? How does it raise questions about audience or national identity? The same troupe would eventually stage Comedy of Errors (in Dari) at the Globe Theater in 2012, which signifies a transnational Shakespeare even as it re-places the play in its ?original space.?

This is one example of the degree to which Shakespeare has shifted from the centrality of an authoritative text to a multi-center model where different (and often peripheral) Shakespeares exist and cross-influence each other. In this framework, questions of authenticity and intent give way to discussions of Shakespeare in terms of influence and his works as a globalizing force. For the second edition of the International Shakespeare Conference, we seek submissions from a wide range of topics related to the translation, interpretation and adaptation of Shakespeare, including:

    Shakespeare in theater, performance, film, music, visual arts
    Shakespeare in and as pedagogy
    Shakespeare in the context of social justice
    Shakespeare and applied theater
    Shakespeare and materiality
    Case studies of Shakespeare in translation
    Digital Shakespeare(s)
    Intralingual, interlingual or intermedial translation of Shakespeare
    Imitation and reception of Shakespeare worldwide
    Comparative analyses discussing the influence of the Shakespearean linguistic or cultural legacy
    Theoretical approaches to global Shakespeare: postcolonialism, race, gender, sexuality, alterity

The conference will take place September 18-20, 2015, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Please e-mail a 250 word abstract to by May 15.

Sponosred by Program in Comparative Literature | Department of English | The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies | College of Humanities and Fine Arts | International Programs Office | Translation Center

For details, visit or for more information (also available in French, Polish, and Spanish), or contact Edwin Gentzler at