Early Modern and Open Access

Shocked Shylock | Early Modern and Open Access

By January 26, 2014 No Comments

This is the inaugural posting in a new, weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access will regularly showcase articles of interest to early modernists that are freely available in peer reviewed, open-access journals. 


Kostihová, Marcela. “Shocked Shylock: Neoliberalism, Postcommunism, and 21st-Century Shakespeare.”  Early English Studies 4 (2011): 1-22.


This essay analyzes a rare Czech postcommunist production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which opened in repertory Theater Komedie in Prague (under direction of Michal Dočekal) in 1997 to a run of 120 performances over the following four years. Only the third Czech Merchant since the end of World War II, and the first after the fall of communism in 1989, the production harnessed the play’s complexities—namely the play’s culturally infamous ethnic tensions and its thorough consideration of the materiality of human existence—to explore contemporary tensions surrounding redefinitions of postcommunist subjectivity stemming from the transitional process from Moscow-controlled totalitarianism to nominally-free Western democracy. It highlights the ways in which the production appropriates the cultural capital of Shakespeare as the purported paragon of universal humanity to challenge the postcommunist transitional process, particularly the neoliberal “structural” adjustments implemented on forceful recommendations of the West.

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