Introduction: Memorialising Shakespeare, Memorialising Ourselves

King, Edmund and Smialkowska, Monika (2021). Introduction: Memorialising Shakespeare, Memorialising Ourselves. In: King, Edmund and Smialkowska, Monika eds. Memorialising Shakespeare: Commemoration and Collective Identity, 1916-2016. Palgrave Shakespeare Studies (PASHST). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–32.



This introductory chapter starts by situating Shakespeare commemoration in the context of recent theory on cultural and collective memory. It then examines the relationship between literary memorialisation and the nation state before problematising commemoration events outside Europe in the context of postcolonial and decolonial theory. Commemoration events have become fraught, it suggests, because of a growing tendency to focus on the politics of the present. This presentist position, which typically represents the values and interests of the past and present as radically opposed to one another, presents challenges for traditional modes of memorialisation, which in the past have sought to demonstrate positive links and continuities between the literatures and cultures of past and present. The introduction concludes with a set of detailed summaries of the chapters in the volume.

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