Academic Scholarship

Stages of Revision: Performance, History, and Textuality in Anonymous

Literature/Film Quarterly 41.2 (2013): 129-142., April 2013

Photo Needed 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. 


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