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Shakespeare’s Women in
YAL
Dr. Amy Piotrowski
Utah State University
To Start
● What do we think of when we hear the term “feminism”?
Feminism
● Felski (1989, 2003) points out that feminism includes many ideas and
points of view - it isn’t a single unified way of thinking
● Critically examines gender as a social category
● Seeks to challenge rather than reinforce stereotypes, address
systemic social issues
Feminism
● Feminism can lead readers to ask interesting questions about works
of literature, and it can spark different retellings of stories.
● So how do YA authors retell the stories of the women of
Shakespeare’s plays? To what extent might these YA novels be
feminist retellings?
● How can we incorporate these YA retellings in our classes?
YA and Shakespeare
● Hateley (2015) points out that “YA appropriations of Shakespeare
usually offer both an introduction to or interpretation of
Shakespearean playtexts and an intertextual model for or message
about how ‘to be’ a reader or consumer of the Shakespearean”
● Letcher (2012) argues that YA retellings show “how his stories and
characters continually breathe with new life and vigor”
The Novels
● As Miskec (2013) points out, YA adaptations of canonical texts can
“allow the teen reader to enjoy (or not) the author’s engagement with
a former story, resulting in, perhaps, a translation, a new perspective,
a unique outcome” (76)
The Novels
These novels retell Shakespeare, specifically focusing on the women.
They often reset the stories in other, even contemporary, time periods.
They give characters new storylines and different fates.
Hamlet
Ophelia (2007) by Lisa Klein
Romeo and Juliet
Romiette and Julio (2001) by
Sharon Draper
Juliet Immortal (2012) by Stacey
Jay
Much Ado About Nothing
Speak Easy, Speak Love (2017) by
McKelle George
Nothing Happened (2019) by Molly
Booth
Winter’s Tale
Exit, Pursued By A Bear (2016) by E.K. Johnston
Points to Consider
● Ways in which novels seek to lead students into to Shakespeare
(Rominette and Julio), change the Shakespearean plot as a form of
critique (Ophelia), reset the Shakespeare in a different time period to
put a new twist on the story (Speak Easy, Speak Love, Exit Pursued
by a Bear), pay homage to the Shakespearean story (Nothing
Happened), or extend the story past the end of Shakespeare’s play
(Juliet Immortal)
Points to Consider
● Ways in which these retellings challenge and/or reinforce stereotypes:
Klein’s Ophelia develops a caring relationship with Gertrude, and she
escapes Elsinore, but that then leads to a tidy romance-plot ending
(see Hateley, 2013). Johnston’s novel gives readers a view of what
allyship between women can be in retelling Winter’s Tale (see Moore,
2018)
Teaching Applications
● Questions for students:
○ Why might writers today retell a classic story?
○ Why retell this particular Shakespeare play?
○ How does the YA compare to the Shakespeare? What was
changed, what stayed the same, and how does that affect the
story told?
○ Are these novels feminist retellings? How and how not?
Teaching Applications
● Do we use the YA to introduce the Shakespeare, read the YA after
the Shakespeare to compare, or read the YA on its own?
● How can we use YA to “add a layer of ownership and resistance
rather than forced appreciation of the classic narrative” (Miskec, 2013,
p. 76)? The less faithful retellings may the most interesting!
● Whole class novel or independent reading?
Questions?
● E-mail: amy.piotrowski@usu.edu
● Twitter: @amypiotrowski
● Website: www.amypiotrowski.com

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Shakespeare's Women in YAL

  • 1. Shakespeare’s Women in YAL Dr. Amy Piotrowski Utah State University
  • 2. To Start ● What do we think of when we hear the term “feminism”?
  • 3. Feminism ● Felski (1989, 2003) points out that feminism includes many ideas and points of view - it isn’t a single unified way of thinking ● Critically examines gender as a social category ● Seeks to challenge rather than reinforce stereotypes, address systemic social issues
  • 4. Feminism ● Feminism can lead readers to ask interesting questions about works of literature, and it can spark different retellings of stories. ● So how do YA authors retell the stories of the women of Shakespeare’s plays? To what extent might these YA novels be feminist retellings? ● How can we incorporate these YA retellings in our classes?
  • 5. YA and Shakespeare ● Hateley (2015) points out that “YA appropriations of Shakespeare usually offer both an introduction to or interpretation of Shakespearean playtexts and an intertextual model for or message about how ‘to be’ a reader or consumer of the Shakespearean” ● Letcher (2012) argues that YA retellings show “how his stories and characters continually breathe with new life and vigor”
  • 6. The Novels ● As Miskec (2013) points out, YA adaptations of canonical texts can “allow the teen reader to enjoy (or not) the author’s engagement with a former story, resulting in, perhaps, a translation, a new perspective, a unique outcome” (76)
  • 7. The Novels These novels retell Shakespeare, specifically focusing on the women. They often reset the stories in other, even contemporary, time periods. They give characters new storylines and different fates.
  • 9. Romeo and Juliet Romiette and Julio (2001) by Sharon Draper Juliet Immortal (2012) by Stacey Jay
  • 10. Much Ado About Nothing Speak Easy, Speak Love (2017) by McKelle George Nothing Happened (2019) by Molly Booth
  • 11. Winter’s Tale Exit, Pursued By A Bear (2016) by E.K. Johnston
  • 12. Points to Consider ● Ways in which novels seek to lead students into to Shakespeare (Rominette and Julio), change the Shakespearean plot as a form of critique (Ophelia), reset the Shakespeare in a different time period to put a new twist on the story (Speak Easy, Speak Love, Exit Pursued by a Bear), pay homage to the Shakespearean story (Nothing Happened), or extend the story past the end of Shakespeare’s play (Juliet Immortal)
  • 13. Points to Consider ● Ways in which these retellings challenge and/or reinforce stereotypes: Klein’s Ophelia develops a caring relationship with Gertrude, and she escapes Elsinore, but that then leads to a tidy romance-plot ending (see Hateley, 2013). Johnston’s novel gives readers a view of what allyship between women can be in retelling Winter’s Tale (see Moore, 2018)
  • 14. Teaching Applications ● Questions for students: ○ Why might writers today retell a classic story? ○ Why retell this particular Shakespeare play? ○ How does the YA compare to the Shakespeare? What was changed, what stayed the same, and how does that affect the story told? ○ Are these novels feminist retellings? How and how not?
  • 15. Teaching Applications ● Do we use the YA to introduce the Shakespeare, read the YA after the Shakespeare to compare, or read the YA on its own? ● How can we use YA to “add a layer of ownership and resistance rather than forced appreciation of the classic narrative” (Miskec, 2013, p. 76)? The less faithful retellings may the most interesting! ● Whole class novel or independent reading?
  • 16. Questions? ● E-mail: amy.piotrowski@usu.edu ● Twitter: @amypiotrowski ● Website: www.amypiotrowski.com