Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 November 2011
Crises often usher in great opportunities for innovation. In the face of stiff competition from other forms of entertainment, theatre artists have gone global and digital, taking Shakespeare with them. Hundreds of thousands of Shakespeare-related videos including promotional clips for stage productions – buoyed by a tag cloud – ‘live’ on the English- and Japanese-language portals of YouTube and other video-sharing and social networking sites around the world. Some of these may be transient, but digital video is a large part of Shakespeare's presence in contemporary world cultures, reconceptualizing the idea of liveness and archive. As digital screens become ‘the default interfaces for media access’ and data mining, the public can express themselves audiovisually on these sites while shaping the resulting archive.
What are digital video's functions? How can those functions be best facilitated in the field of Shakespeare studies when the disciplinary boundary between text and performance is blurred by virtual performative texts? This article surveys the state of global Shakespeare and analyses the implications of digital video in current and future scholarly and pedagogic practice. While recent scholarship has begun to address Shakespeare's place in the new media and digital culture, it has not fully engaged the digital video archive's impact on the field due in part to a continued interest in new textualities in ‘the late age of print’.