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Grant number like: FT-54018-06

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Mark A. Bayer
American University of Beirut (New York, NY 10017-2303)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2006 – 8/31/2006

Shakespeare and the Construction of Modern Arabic Cultural Identity

Since Shakespeare was first translated into Arabic and performed on the stages of Cairo in the late nineteenth century, his plays have become a remarkably popular and durable cultural commodity for audiences throughout the Middle East. In this study, I look at the history of Shakespeare in the Arab world in an effort to uncover the various reasons for the Arabs’ surprising willingness to appropriate the quintessential symbol of Anglo- American literary achievement and a culture to which they are often so vociferously opposed. I argue that, for Arabs, Shakespeare has been a catalyst for self-reflection and a vehicle through which to negotiate a new cultural identity that merges traditional concerns with the ubiquitous influence of the West.