The educational visual "language" in graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare

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University of Alabama Libraries

There is a hierarchal problem in how Shakespearean graphic novels are taught withinsecondary level education. As will be shown in my review of the critical work surrounding Shakespearean graphic novel adaptations, graphic texts have long helped instructors, teachers, and other fellow educators, deconstruct and challenge how we view Shakespeare and the language of his plays. The graphic novels I have chosen for my study (Manga Classics Hamlet, Ian Doescher’s Deadpool Does Shakespeare, Chuck Austen’s She Lies With Angels, and Ronald Wimberly’s Prince of Cats) have been selected not because they exemplify the “best” adapted graphic novels of Shakespeare, but rather because they pose interesting questions, theories, and models of delivery of the original texts of Shakespeare. Showcasing the Shakespearean “rhizomatic” theory posed by Douglas Lanier, these graphic novels are very different from one another in how they reconnect the reader (and “viewer”) to the early modern past and language of Shakespeare’s dramatic texts. While all of them respect the so-called “original text,” there is an obvious line of tension between how they embrace, incorporate, or deviate from Shakespeare. These differences range from revolutionary, in bringing new purpose to adaptation theory surrounding Shakespeare, to the acknowledgement that Shakespeare’s Elizabethan English can be modified, changed, and “paraphrased” and still remain “Shakespeare.” Therefore, my thesis will ultimately prove that Shakespeare, the poet as well as the idea, is not limited to a “language,” but can also be seen and studied in images, graphic artwork, and the skilled linework of a graphic novel. In recognizing that Shakespeare’s language is not simply a textual entity, but also a visual cultural text, I hope to show that secondary education level students can not only learn to interpret the original language of Shakespeare but come to recognize the importance of his graphic imprint.

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English literature, Education