‘@Shakespeare: Trying to keep incognito with #WSCongress16 in town. If a scholar sees me I just say, “Hullo, lovely to meet you. I’m Peter Holland”/@TwasFletcher: Tell them you’re Me!’ (1 August 2016). This article looks at the anonymously-managed @Shakespeare account and its performance of Shakespeare’s authority on social media, in the context of the parody bot account @TwasFletcher. I argue that authority is established and performed by @Shakespeare through interaction with other authoritative accounts, literary in-jokes, engagement with academic conferences, and, most crucially, anonymity. The destabilising or undermining of Shakespeare’s online authority as performed by @TwasFletcher, is especially significant for its lack of anonymity: created by Hofstra University professor and associate dean Vimala C. Pasupathi, @TwasFletcher raises questions about how scholars who are not white, cis-het men make space for themselves within the authority commanded by Shakespeare, especially online. By inserting Fletcher into Shakespeare, Pasupathi herself performs authority in opposition to Shakespeare and the dominant idea of who a Shakespeare scholar should be or what s/he should do. This essay will therefore argue that two meanings of “authority”—recognized as true or valid on the one hand, and domineering, autocratic, or imposing on the other—play out through the relationship between @Shakespeare and @TwasFletcher on Twitter.
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