Stages of Revision: Performance, History, and Textuality in Anonymous
Literature/Film Quarterly 41.2 (2013): 129-142., April 2013
Donovan Sherman, Ph.D.
Department of English
The article reads the 2011 film Anonymous (which dramatizes the
thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory that Shakespeare did not write
the work attributed to him) within debates on the interpretive primacy
of, and fidelity to, Shakespearean drama—that is, whether plays are
thought of as textual, performance-based, or in a space between. I
suggest that the film creates, despite or because of its conspiratorial
desires, a paradoxical dynamic: while offering a forthright, even
zealous belief in uncovering a secret history, Anonymous utilizes
aesthetic techniques that destabilize its coherence. It quite literally
“stages” its own version of history and asks that its audience accepts
it as concretized truth, even as it makes us complicit in witnessing
that history’s theatrical and insubstantial origins.