Even 401 years after his death, William Shakespeare’s plays are still alive: whether as Hollywood remakes (for instance 10 Things I Hate About You, Romeo Must Die) or even in Manga form. At the same time, theaters all around the world and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in particular are constantly putting on stage updated stage adaptations of his plays, transporting them into the 21st century.

In the seminar „The Bard in Modern Dress — 21st Century Stage Adaptations of Shakespeare" (winter term 2017-18/taught by Dr. Heidi Liedke) students engaged in close readings and viewings of three selected plays by Shakespeare - Hamlet, The Tempest, and Cymbeline – and their respective RSC adaptations. In the seminar discussions students critically reflected on aspects from adaptation theory, literary and cultural studies in order to get, among other things, a feel for why these plays still ‘work’ within the present-day context and how they deal with such diverse and transhistorically relevant topics as power, love, jealousy and betrayal. We especially kept in mind how the selected adaptations may provide comments on the situation in a post-Brexit Europe.

In addition, the seminar had its own Twitter account where students could keep the bard alive virtually: instead of writing ‚traditional‘ reading reports students posted tweets on their weekly reading assignments. These tweets took on several forms: they were either aphorisms from the primary texts, questions that came up in connection with the secondary readings or sometimes even translations of Shakespearean English into emojis.