Panel 11: “The Undiscovered Country – the Future” – Shakespeare in Science Fiction

Anxieties that a decline of print culture in favour of digitalized texts might lead to a loss of knowledge of the classics will eventually turn out to be unfounded if the visions of science fiction are to be believed. Allusions to and themes from the Bard’s works abound in contemporary science fiction. To name but a few examples: In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, Shakespeare is still very much alive in the 23rd century and beyond, quoted by Klingon and Federation starship captains alike, and even re-enacted by the android Data on the Enterprise-D’s holodeck. In the British cult science fiction series Doctor Who, the fourth incarnation of the protagonist claims he helped transcribe the original manuscript of Hamlet. In Battlestar Galactica, ambitious Gaius Baltar turns into an uncanny version of Macbeth, with Caprica Six as his Lady Macbeth manipulating him to unspeakable crimes.

Shakespeare appears to particularly lend itself to the genre of science fiction to provide a cultural constant in a mechanized world, to serve as a foil for the hamartia of plots set in the distant future, to illuminate a mysterious character.

In this panel, speakers will address how incarnations of Shakespearean heroes and plays toy with the postmodern idea of the echo chamber, and with Baudrillard’s concept of hyperrealism and the universal simulation in which originals no longer exist.[[ Jean Baudrillard, L’échange symbolique et la mort. Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines (Paris: Gallimard, 1976) and Simulacres et simulation (Paris: Galilée, 1981); 111 ff.]] Furthermore, this panel encourages papers to explore how Shakespeare in alien costume challenges the self-fashioning[[ In New Historicism, self-fashioning denotes the idea that members of a culture fashion their identities and their historical past in accordance with the accepted norms and codes of behaviour of that society: “We choose our past in the same way that we choose our future. The historical past, therefore, is, like our various personal pasts, at best a myth, justifying our gamble on a specific future, and at worst a lie, a retrospective rationalization of what we have in fact become through our choices”. Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1985); 39.]] of one civilization as the most advanced and therefore predominant culture, how it raises “questions about the notion of familiarity and alien-ness and the processes of cultural re-appropriation as enacted in and through language […], emerging at the intersections between translation theory and postcolonial studies”.[[ Karolina Kazimierczak, “Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: The Klingon Hamlet and the Spaces of Translation”. Studies in Popular Culture 32.2, Spring 2010; 35-55; 36.]]

Abstracts (250 words) for 15-20 minute papers may be submitted to
Dr Simone Broders (English Studies, Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg), simone.broders “at” or simone.broders “at”

The submission deadline is 31 July 2013.