Re-Orienting Shakespeare in Japan

Mika Eglinton

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis investigates how Shakespearean plays, the so-called “centre of the western canon” and “global commodity of cultural-capital” are interculturally reconstructed in the sphere of “Asia,” particularly Japan, against the current socio-cultural contexts of a postmodern and globalised age. In particular, I analyse how Shakespeare’s characters are represented in relation to the ongoing dichotomies of East and West, Occidentalism and Orientalism, masculinity and femininity, to colonise and to be colonised, and tradition and contemporaneity.

What does “Shakespeare” signify and where does this cultural icon stand in “Asia”? How is his iconic status constructed, celebrated, received, criticised, accommodated and consumed in the context of Asian intercultural productions? How are Shakespeare’s “women” performed in contemporary Asian theatres? What is the definition of Asia itself and where and how does one situate it? From the Occidental, Euro-centralised viewpoint that is connected to male subjectivity, following Edward Said, “Oriental” tends to be seen as “the other” and also somewhat feminine. If that is so, then are Shakespearean women, as “the others” in Asia, marginalised and feminised in a doubly complicated sense? Furthermore, as Rustom Bharucha claims, “Asiacentricity is the other side of Eurocentricity”, then does this not mean that the re-colonization of Shakespeare also implies colonizing masculinity?

In order to re-examine and re-define these questions, I develop a series of case studies based on unique research material collated from cross-cultural, multi-lingual and inter-national collaborative performance projects. This includes works by the following directors and practitioners: Deguchi Norio, Ninagawa Yukio, Miyagi Satoshi, Noda Hideki, Yasuda Masahiro, Ong Keng Sen and Miyazawa Akio. For each case study, I expose and analyse a specific type of “re-orientation” of a Shakespeare play. By re-orientation I mean the adaptation and ownership of Shakespeares in local, non-English contexts and the exportation of the transformed Shakespeare back to its place of origin.

Through these case studies, I document and historicise the complexity of correlations and mutual influences between East and West, challenging ageing dichotomies based on the dominance of Western discourse and cultural hegemony, towards a re-orientation of Shakespeare in the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Schafer, Elizabeth, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • Shakespeare
  • Japan
  • Orientalism
  • Occidentalism
  • theatre history
  • women
  • representation
  • Japonism
  • exotism
  • Colonialism
  • Feminism
  • post-colonial studies

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