Shakespeare and the Cultural Olympiad: Contesting Gender and the British Nation in the BBC’s Hollow Crown

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As part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrating both the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, the BBC launched a season of programs, entitled Shakespeare Unlocked, most notably presenting the plays of the second tetralogy in four feature-length adaptations released under the unifying title The Hollow Crown. These plays so obviously engaged with the question of English nationalism suited a year in which the United Kingdom wrestled with British identity in a post-colonial and post-Great Recession world. Through its adaptative and filmic vocabularies, however, The Hollow Crown advances a British nationalism unresponsive to the casualties — often women and ethnic minorities — incurred over the course of Britain's self-formation and acts of self-defining. While the adaptation of Richard II strives to preserve a complex understanding of woman's role in British history, both parts of Henry IV and Henry V sacrifice such depiction to the manifest destiny of Henry V's apotheosis. The Hollow Crown admits little room for questioning a construction of British nationalism as essentially white, male, and validated by the cultural iconicity of Shakespeare's canon.

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Borrowers and Lenders

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Borrowers and Lenders





First Department