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Color-Conscious Casting and Multicultural Britain in the BBC Henry V (2012): Historicizing Adaptation in an Age of Digital Placelessness
Andrews Research Conference
  • L. Monique Pittman, Andrews University
Presenter Status
Professor of English, Department of English; Director of the J.N. Andrews Honors Program
Presentation Type
Newbold Auditorium
Start Date
4-5-2016 7:00 PM
End Date
4-5-2016 8:00 PM
Presentation Abstract
Four hundred years after the death of William Shakespeare, the playwright’s works and their afterlives occupy an uncontested position as signifiers of cultural value. However, those same works as instruments of an Anglo-White hegemony also shorthand enduring contestations over which cultural identities enjoy power. Throughout its adaptational history, Shakespeare’s Henry V (1599) has long telegraphed British imperial might. Produced within the framework of the Cultural Olympiad that coincided with both the London Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, the BBC’s Hollow Crown Henry V (2012) wrestles with the status of multicultural British identity in the post-Great Recession and post-9/11 climate. Henry V (directed by Thea Sharrock) raises questions by casting in an otherwise all-White film one non-Caucasian, Paterson Joseph, as the Duke of York. That the Duke of York is played by the only actor of color in the film burdens the role with new pressures of representation and interacts in troubling ways with the policies of British multiculturalism and the trope of the Magical Negro in Hollywood film-making.
Biographical Sketch

L. Monique Pittman is Professor of English and Director of the J. N. Andrews Honors Program at Andrews University. Her research explores theatrical, televisual, and cinematic performances of Shakespeare, including her monograph Authorizing Shakespeare on Film and Television: Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in Adaptation (2011). Recent publications examine The Taming of the Shrew at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Shakespeare Survey, Fall 2014), Ralph Fiennes’s Coriolanus (Shakespeare Bulletin, Summer 2015), and The Hollow Crown (Borrowers and Lenders, Spring 2016). For her teaching and service at Andrews University, she has received the College of Arts & Sciences, Humanities Division Undergraduate Research Mentor Award (2016), the J. N. Andrews Medallion (2013), the Bruce A. Ronk Excellence in Research Award (2010), the Augsburger Excellence in Teaching Award (2006), and Advisor of the Year (2004).

Citation Information
L. Monique Pittman. "Color-Conscious Casting and Multicultural Britain in the BBC Henry V (2012): Historicizing Adaptation in an Age of Digital Placelessness" (2016)
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