Bardguides of the New Universe

Niche Marketing and the Cultural Logic of Late Shakespeareanism
  • Donald K. Hedrick


A recent New Yorker cover cartoon by the amazing Roz Chast (November 22, 1999) shows an urban newspaper kiosk whose vendor is surrounded by a display of current magazines for sale. Reading the titles posted in this dauntingly large spread, however, one encounters a succession of geometrically expanding specializations: Reader’s Digest Digest, Celebrity Surgery, Staten Island Poetry Journal, Home Dentist, Tinfoil Crafts, Plastic Wrap Crafis, Wanna-bes, Has-beens, Vegan Surfer, to the magazine with the ultimate contemporary identification, Loser. The joke about increasingly narrow and esoteric magazines is at the same time an insightful play on my subject here—niche marketing. Here I want to consider the state of Shakespeare, at the present historical moment in an explosion of film adaptations and other interest, with respect to the phenomenon (or fiction) of the “mass market” in what is something like a “postmodern consumerism” of niche marketing, where the “old hierarchies are becoming obsolete,” where there is “no fashion, only fashions” (Featherstone 1991, 110–11), style is manufactured with planned or “progressive” obsolescence (Ewen 1988, 244, 249–51), and where we are in the era of “demassification” and “the end of mass culture” (Toffler, Denning, cited in Agnew 1993, 38). I want to begin to describe how this market phenomenon helps account for central features of what I will term “late Shakespeareanism”—a cultural phenomenon I make analogous to the “late capitalism” of left economic analysis (Mandel 1975) but one without, for most Shakespeareans at least, that term’s implicit hope of decay and implosion.


Market Segmentation Early Modern Period Power Play Dust Jacket Niche Logic 
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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald K. Hedrick

There are no affiliations available

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