The Theme Park
  • Diana E. Henderson


From whence “Schlockspeare,” and where is it going? Is it the creation of twentieth-century mass media, or has mass culture merely changed the technological particulars of how “Shakespeare” is represented outside canonical, licensed artistic venues? While many accounts of the decontextualized commercial appropriation of Shakespeare (what Richard Burt has dubbed Schlockspeare) presume it to be a modern phenomenon and bastard kin to a “legitimate” tradition in text and performance, one might just as well argue that their origin is unitary: Schlockspeare was there “in the beginning,” in the texts performed and pirated in seventeenth-century London. When Hamlet addresses the players, attempting to constrain and counter current professional practices; when courtiers mock amateurs for including Moonshine and bungling classical allusions; when Antigonus is caught between a bear and a Bohemian seacoast and Hecate dances through Scotland, Schlockspeare is the specter and Shakespeare the author who polices or indulges him. In other words, it was ever thus, with purists and crowd-pleasers as Siamese twins, the strange stage-fellows unable to survive alone. That which was deemed out of bounds, unworthy of interpretation, incoherent, or wrong predates mass media, and is therefore not so much “post-hermeneutic” (again, Burt’s term) as non- or antihermeneutic.


Mass Culture Theme Park Cultural Tourism Mass Audience Siamese Twin 
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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana E. Henderson

There are no affiliations available

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