Margaret Jane Kidnie: Shakespeare and the problem of adaptation

Pascale Aebischer, Jennifer Barnes

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


    Now that Shakespearean performance studies have come of age, the time has come to reassess the theoretical assumptions underpinning the field. Shakespeare and the Problem of Adaptation is an important contribution to this critical reassessment, productively questioning the distinction between text and performance that so much criticism relies on. Informed by her editorial work, Kidnie, in her opening chapters, suggests that this opposition masks a more fundamental distinction, that between the ‘work’ and ‘adaptation’. Drawing on recent debates in textual studies and adaptation theory, and reviving the near-defunct terminology of 1980s pragmatic criticism and reader-response theory in a new context, Kidnie describes the ‘work’ as an ongoing process that is produced through text(s), performance(s) and various users (readers, audiences) who, at diverse historical moments, apply their notions of the Shakespearean ‘work’ to its time-bound incarnations. She explains: ‘Instead of the text itself coming to stand in place of the work, with performance assuming a second order, adaptive relation as a performance of the text, performance and text are both, in their different ways, instances of the work’ (p. 28).

    Kidnie's model is compelling because it lends itself to an investigation of moments at which the notion of the Shakespearean ‘work’ comes under pressure
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)647-648
    Number of pages2
    JournalReview of English Studies
    Issue number246
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Margaret Jane Kidnie: Shakespeare and the problem of adaptation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this