Your voice is welcome here!
We welcome all readers of every background to engage with these texts. Whether you’re interested in Shakespeare, the global effects of COVID-19, social justice issues, digital approaches to artistic, social, and cultural inquiry, or feel another draw entirely, we value your insight and invite you to contribute your thoughts, questions, interpretations, and unique experiences to these texts.
There are no literary prerequisites or requirements for participation: first-time readers of Shakespeare, casual enthusiasts, academics, students, formal practitioners, and readers of every skill level, racial identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, cultural background, and geographic location are welcome to use this space and join in the conversation.
No annotation is too short, too simple, or too “casual.” We are less interested in finding the “best” formal annotations than we are with creating a safe, inclusive space for the individual experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic not adequately captured by any editorial, health report, government dispatch, or news article. This website aims to foster global interconnectivity not only around larger themes of illness, isolation, social crisis, and inequality, but also shared pleasure, joy, and humor during frightful and unstable times.
We value curiosity and engagement with Shakespeare on multiple levels--annotations need not be grammatically correct, nor longer than a phrase or two. Unsure of what to write? Define a word that might not be familiar to everyone, link to a news article you think might be interesting to others, or write down questions you have about the text--there might be another reader who can answer them! We feel that there are no “dumb” questions, we foster no shame for being new to the texts, and we enforce no penalties for misspellings, capitalization or punctuation errors, and so on. This is not a space for reinforcing intellectual hierarchies via the performance and demonstration of expertise, but rather a space to find connections and common ground in our experiences of the global pandemic.
That said, longer or more elaborate annotations, of course, are also welcome. Whatever your field of interest or unique viewpoint is, we welcome your full insights here. Some questions to consider when annotating:
- How does your own experience of the COVID-19 pandemic inform how you read Shakespeare? How does Shakespeare inform your response to COVID-19? Are there any recent personal or public developments in your experience that you see mirrored in the texts?
- How is “illness” defined in the plays? Aside from physical disease, are there any deviant identities, ideas, emotions, or behaviors that are more broadly characterized as “sick” in the texts? What “social pandemics” do you see included in the discourse, both in the plays and in your own personal experiences?
- How are conversations in Shakespeare mediated by experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and gender? How is your own response to COVID-19 mediated by your experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and gender? What social power dynamics do you see reinforced (or challenged) in the plays? What does it mean for us to find common ground in Shakespeare, a white male author who carries his own privilege even to this day?
- How much has really changed in our beliefs, biases, stigmas, and misunderstandings towards both literal diseases and “ills of society” in the 400+ years since Shakespeare wrote his plays?