‘Gifts of the World’?: Creating and Contextualising the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s International Collection

Hopkins, Helen A. (2022) ‘Gifts of the World’?: Creating and Contextualising the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s International Collection. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Helen Hopkins_PhD Thesis_Final Version_Submitted Aug 2021_Final Award Jan 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

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This study represents the first time that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s international collection has been discretely identified and discussed. It raises cultural, political, and historical questions through a consideration of the objects gifted, donated, or deposited in the SBT’s collections since the charity’s earliest days through today. It reveals how donors – private, public, or officially diplomatic –wished to see their nation represented in the SBT’s collections, and therefore in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The study surveys the collection items at the SBT and presents collection narratives for Germany, the US, India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, and China. Each narrative presents an overview of all the objects connected to each place, guided and structured by the objects themselves. The chapters highlight the relevant items that exist in the collection before identifying such key issues as their provenance, history, significance, and position within the collection.

By analysing and critiquing the SBT’s own responses to its international collection, through its cataloguing and curatorial practice, the study exposes and historicises the Trust’s own critical blind spots, assumptions, and assertions around Shakespeare’s ‘universality’. The application of gift theory highlights political and cultural rationale of the items; post/decolonial and critical race theories problematise the idea of universality and identify the workings of Anglo-centrism, cultural imperialism, and white supremacy; and object/collection theory establishes the potential of the SBT’s collections to address the vital aim of detaching Shakespeare from the imperialist narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
31 August 2021Submitted
11 January 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Shakespeare, Collections, Museums, Cultural Materialism, Cultural Diplomacy, Imperialism, Gift Giving, Cultural Capital, Cultural Identity, National Identity, Cultural Appropriation, Postcolonial and Racial Theory
Subjects: CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-03 - literature in English
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > School of English
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2022 13:28
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2022 13:28
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13444

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