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Humanities 2019, 8(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010045

Digital Humanities’ Shakespeare Problem

Department of English, St. Francis Xavier University; P.O. Box 5000, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5, Canada
Received: 28 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 23 February 2019 / Published: 4 March 2019
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Abstract

Digital humanities has a Shakespeare problem; or, to frame it more broadly, a canon problem. This essay begins by demonstrating why we need to consider Shakespeare’s position in the digital landscape, recognizing that Shakespeare’s prominence in digital sources stems from his cultural prominence. I describe the Shakespeare/not Shakespeare divide in digital humanities projects and then turn to digital editions to demonstrate how Shakespeare’s texts are treated differently from his contemporaries—and often isolated by virtue of being placed alone on their pedestal. In the final section, I explore the implications of Shakespeare’s popularity to digital humanities projects, some of which exist solely because of Shakespeare’s status. Shakespeare’s centrality to the canon of digital humanities reflects his reputation in wider spheres such as education and the arts. No digital project will offer a complete, unmediated view of the past, or, indeed, the present. Ultimately, each project implies an argument about the status of Shakespeare, and we—as Shakespeareans, early modernists, digital humanists, humanists, and scholars—must determine what arguments we find persuasive and what arguments we want to make with the new projects we design and implement. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital humanities; Shakespeare; early modern drama; literary canon; English literature; Renaissance digital humanities; Shakespeare; early modern drama; literary canon; English literature; Renaissance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Estill, L. Digital Humanities’ Shakespeare Problem. Humanities 2019, 8, 45.

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