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Beyond Shakespeare: Early Modern Adaptation Studies and Its Potential


Correspondence: Department of English, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.


School of English, Media Studies, and Art History, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Even after years of important and useful work, early modern adaptation studies remains largely limited to two areas: Shakespeare and film. This limitation is understandable. An adaptor himself, Shakespeare has also inspired countless adaptations and appropriations over the centuries. Film Shakespeare carries obvious appeal for those interested in early modern adaptation, not only for the magic of Shakespeare's name but also because much adaptation theory remains the province of film scholars. However, this article argues that such a tight focus unnecessarily restricts the wide field of early modern adaptation practices available for study. Instead, we need to establish a wider context for early modern adaptation studies. This article suggests some approaches towards establishing such a context through its examinations of adaptation theory and digital humanities as avenues for moving beyond Shakespeare.