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Screwing the Bardbody:

Kill Shakespeare and North American Popular Culture

Michelle Ephraim



Abstract:This essay examines the first two volumes (Issues 1-12) of the comic series Kill Shakespeare (2010-11) to argue for a significant change in recent North American representations of Shakespeare in popular culture. Departing from the still-traditional historicist approaches to this subject, I follow Richard Burt’s study of 1990s pornographic film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, and indeed the genre of pornographic film itself, by privileging body over text, and empirical experience over an analysis of language. Thus, rather than examining how Americans have appropriated Shakespeare’s poetry (and treated Shakespeare as the textual “other,” the creator and proprietor of a superior foreign language), I focus on representations of the bodily, in-the-flesh Shakespeare in Kill Shakespeare’s graphic visuals. Kill Shakespeare brings into being what I term the Bardbody – a physical Shakespeare who signifies the proprietary sentiments of his creators. Kill Shakespeare’s plotline slyly and meta-textually suggests how the American comic book narrative both takes custody over Shakespeare and offers him a type of authorial protection. The quest that ends with the triumph of Shakespeare’s virile, sexualized body is the fantasy of a Bardbody created in its textual and visual entirety by North American writers and illustrators. This affection’s intense, pictorial form reads also as an urgent affirmation of Shakespeare’s authenticity — his identity as the true author of the work that bears his name.


One of Richard Burt’s most significant contributions to Shakespeare scholarship is his take on pornographic film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. During the late 1990s, he argues, films such as A Midsummer Night’s Cream, The Taming of the Screw, and Tromeo and Juliet expressed American ambivalence towards the elite Shakespeare of European literary tradition. Burt contends that Shakespeare-themed porn films, like other engagements with Shakespeare in late twentieth-century American mass media and popular culture, indulge in both the high-culture cache of Shakespearean literature and the desecration of this literature’s integrity.

Now, fifteen years after the publication of his Unspeakable Shaxxxspeares, I would contend that Burt’s arguments about America’s ambivalent indulgence in bardolatry once again open useful avenues of inquiry that divert from still-traditional historicist approaches to Shakespeare in American popular culture. Rather than examining how Americans have appropriated Shakespeare’s poetry, I follow Burt, and indeed the genre of pornographic film itself, by privileging body over text, and empirical experience over an analysis of language. I am interested in Shakespearean adaptations that create titillating encounters between American audiences and Shakespearean bodies.1 These iterations are not necessarily meant to bring the reader/viewer to sexual climax. They do, however, deploy bodily representations of Shakespearean characters and Shakespeare himself with an affective intent. By prioritizing the embodied Shakespeare, I hope to point toward a significant change in recent American representations of Shakespeare: in addition to the Shakespeare who haunts Americans as the textual “other,” the creator and proprietor of a superior foreign language that Americans attempt to appropriate (and whose “high culture” status Shakespearean porn aggressively subverts), there is now the Shakespeare who has been realized as what Frances Teague calls an impossible national fantasy: “England’s national poet . . . transformed to an American” (173).

In this essay, I briefly consider the first two volumes of Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, and (illustrator) Andy Belanger’s recent Kill Shakespeare comic series (2010-11) on a discursive continuum with Shakespearean porn. My central contention, however, is that Kill Shakespeare’s depictions of Shakespeare’s body reflect a shift away from the cultural ambivalence Burt identifies in X-rated Shakespeare produced during the 1980s and ’90s. Over the last decade, with the publishing phenomena of Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, and James Shapiro’s A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 and Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, Americans have become prominent authors of Shakespeare’s subjectivity. This intimate engagement with Shakespeare is played out in Kill Shakespeare’s graphic visuals of Shakespeare’s physical form. As I will argue, the comic enacts not only a familiarity with, but also a bringing-into-being of a Bardbody - a proprietary relationship between the American reader and the made-in-America Shakespearean subject. In this sense, Kill Shakespeare’s writers and illustrators also assert their advantageous position outside the English internecine wars over Shakespearean authorship. In fact, Kill Shakespeare’s plotline slyly and meta-textually suggests how the American comic book narrative both takes custody over Shakespeare and offers him a type of authorial protection.2

Sex with Shakespeare (American Style)

Kill Shakespeare, with its prominent representations of Shakespeare’s body (and indeed the “kill” of the title suggests murder as well as sexual pleasure), calls attention to a striking omission in Shakespearean porn of the 1990s: the naked Bard himself. Could a sexually active Shakespeare have been a creative oversight in a genre of such infinite variety? Surely there was an opening for Shakespeare as an eager stagehand or as a famous playwright who specializes in group wooing? And if not with the ladies, how about in the company of men? After all, Shakespeare might easily be imagined engaging in rowdy swordplay with fellow members of a theater-fraternity or as the effete recipient of a special patron. Didn’t anyone in the porn industry get inspired by those first sonnets?

Richard Burt does not make much of the absence of Shakespeare’s naked body in the “Bardcore” industry. He attributes this absence to the perception of Shakespeare as a sacrosanct, and therefore untouchable, subject matter. When Shakespeare does show up on screen, Burt notes, he plays the role of "voyueristic critic rather than participant sex performer" (106); he is the author whose approvals the character seel. But I want to suggest that the absence of this “godlike” Shakespeare is more fraught than Burt suggests, perhaps signifying feelings of both respect and resentment towards the Bard in American culture. In addition to all the actual screwing in Shakespearean porn that desecrates “high culture” Shakespeare, there remains the elusive screw, the impossible act of doing the Bardbody. Shakespeare porn may enact, symbolically, an American inability to possess Shakespeare’s body — a kind of cultural impotence in response to this body’s chronic exclusivity.

Absent as it may be in porn film, however, the Bardbody does make textual appearances in American popular culture. Indeed, Erica Jong’s lurid depiction of the vulnerable, penetrated Bard in her romance novel Shylock’s Daughter (1987) for example, counterposes the absent or distant Bardbody in Shakespeare porn films, expressing sentiments of American disenfranchisement through the graphic violation of Shakespeare’s body. In Jong’s novel about a modern-day actress from New York, Jessica, transported to Renaissance Venice and into a Jewish ghetto, Shakespeare’s personal body and his body of work are simultaneously vulnerable to humiliating penetration. Shakespeare’s appearance in in his patron’s bedroom occasions an particularly extended episode of submission and humiliation, as Shakespeare dutifully submits to each, often violent, sexual whim of his patron, Harry or “Lord S.” Jong describes a threesome with Shakespeare, his patron, and the courtesan Diamante, who cross-dresses like a man for the occasion:

And so it appears that we have here three boys playing a bed. Diamante begins with Will, who shuts his eyes as he loosens his breech and plays tunes upon his rising flute, his fie, his pipe, his musical pillicock. He groans with pleasure, pretending not to notice when she moves on to Harry and Harry presses his own sweet, red, pouting boy-lips to Will’s stiff staff.

What a welter of guilt and confusion is in Will’s mind as he pretends not to know what is afoot, acock, abed. For truly, with his eyes shut, he can still pretend that a woman teases him upward to that heaven of choiring cherubim, that a woman squeezes the sweet musical sap out of his tingling flute, that a woman swallows the silver fountain that explodes like fireworks over the Thames on the queen’s birthday. . . . Now the play turns rough. Lord S. seizes Will by the shoulders and wrestles him to the floor, biting his neck with supposed kisses, drawing little points of blood, but not enough to satisfy his thirst. Thus he draws his poniard from its case and begins to sliver his friend’s arm, neck, thigh, with cuts that are less playful than they seem. (119-20)

The episode, in Jong’s signature bawdy style infused with a heavy dose of cheesy, anachronistic language, ends with Will submitting to anal sex. Despite his aversion, he experiences sexual orgasm: "[with] horror . . . he dies a thundering death, then slips remorsefully away” (120).3

In Shylock’s Daughter, the physical domination of Shakespeare is tantamount to professional emasculation. Jong’s insecure, complacent Shakespeare ultimately beds Jessica, but dulls their post-coital moment with anxious talk about the phenom poet Marlowe. Shakespeare babbles on with “envious admiration” (172), quoting Marlowe at length, while Jessica strokes his “thinning auburn hair” (173). In adding Jessica to the list of Shakespeare’s sexual dominators, Jong imagines Shakespeare penetrated and manipulated not only by a male social superior but also by an ethnic other - a New York-Italian Jew – and her dangerous foreign cities.4 The physical takeover of Shakespeare can therefore be understood as a specifically American penetration of Shakespeare’s white, male Englishness.

Whereas Shakespearean porn films completely omit Shakespeare-in-the-flesh, Shylock’s Daughter relentlessly gropes his body. At the end of the novel, Jessica saves Shakespeare from rape and murder by an angry mob comprised of men to whom he is in debt, as well as his spurned lover/patron Lord S. and Shylock himself, the latter of whom seeks vengeance on Shakespeare for the affair with Jessica. Evoking the ambivalent desire/desecration “screw” that characterizes representations of Shakespeare in late twentieth-century American popular culture, Jong constructs this attack, staged on the hallowed bimah of a synagogue, as a type of worshipful sacrifice and gang rape. The men strip and start to cut at a quivering, fearful Shakespeare: “All want to kill Will; all want to kill each other for the sacred right to kill Will. . . . flushed with battle, their faces filled with blood as if they were in heat, in lust, in love” (185, emphasis mine).

Kill Shakespeare: The Battle for Shakespeare's Body

Shakespearean porn may hint at a desire for Shakespeare’s body, but Kill Shakespeare makes this yearning explicit in the form of the text’s central plot: two rival groups pursue Shakespeare’s corporeal form – one with the purpose of killing him, the other to solicit his protection from these murderers. In Kill Shakespeare’s dystopian universe, Shakespeare’s evil characters have turned on their maker, whose subsequent retreat from the public eye tests even his loyal followers, the Prodigals. Prophesy names Hamlet as “The Shadow King,” the sole person destined to locate the elusive Shakespeare. When Hamlet abandons his allegiance to King Richard III to side with the Prodigals, the purpose of finding Shakespeare’s body shifts as well. Instead of murdering the oppressive tyrant that Richard III describes, Hamlet will fulfill the Prodigals’ greatest desire: to restore Shakespeare to his rightful role as the people’s creator and savior.5 For all of Shakespeare’s characters, however, the full extent of the Bard’s power and identity is contained in his quill: a symbolically overdetermined prop rendered in erotic tropes throughout the narrative. The quill enables Shakespeare to bring people into being, the characters to whom he refers as his “children.” As such, the quill’s power is also procreative, conflating the products of pen with those of the sexually active body. Ultimately, Kill Shakespeare establishes a symbolic correlation between quill and phallus for the purpose of reifying Shakespeare’s potency.

While the faction of Shakespearean villains who turn on their Poet Creator in Kill Shakespeare evoke a distinctly British identity (led by the Macbeths and Richard III, strongly connected to English and Scottish history), their rival Prodigals are a band of institutional outsiders and rebels: Hamlet, Juliet, Falstaff, Puck, and Othello – a heterogeneous jumble united by their loyalty to their father and protector, Shakespeare. While most certainly of the “alternative comic” genre, Kill Shakespeare’s superheroes also evoke the Golden Age of American comics and thus also the ethnic American melting pot of its creators.6 Even the text of Kill Shakespeare itself is a melting pot of sorts — a mash-up of Shakespearean plot-lines, themes, and characters, expressed in a fusion of Elizabethan-style language and famous Shakespearean quotations. The striking, metatextual quality of this battle between “good” and “evil” bespeaks a diverse American culture wresting power from a traditional, hierarchical England.

Kill Shakespeare’s first issue begins with Hamlet in a state of torment from his father’s death, his own murder of Polonius, and his mother’s banishment of him. This vulnerable Hamlet is an easy target for Richard III, who works in sexual and political collusion with Lady Macbeth for the purpose of permanently wresting control from Shakespeare by way of the elusive quill. To Hamlet, Richard claims that Shakespeare is an abusive tyrant whose followers are “warmongers more interested in seizing power than managing it justly” (1.25).7 Richard needs Hamlet who, as The Shadow King, remains the only person capable of getting his hands on Shakespeare’s potent quill. As Richard explains to Hamlet, the quill is the source of all power and life (1.28); with it, Richard believes, he will gain Shakespeare’s procreative agency — an ability that would make his authority absolute. Hamlet initially agrees to Richard’s offer: he will kill this false Father Shakespeare in exchange for the magical revivification of his own father, King Hamlet. While Richard III deceives the prince with his claim that he has such powers, the deal expresses Richard’s fantasy of the power he can acquire through the possession of Shakespeare’s quill, an object always suggestive of Shakespeare’s own physical body — and more, the phallocentric locus of his power.

Fig. 1

Throughout Kill Shakespeare, the quill is an insistent phallic presence, often associated with the eroticized, scantily clad body of Lady Macbeth (who beds Richard as well as Iago). As she does in Shakespeare’s play, Lady Macbeth plays the male part, taking control over the quill that signs away her husband’s power to Richard. Ultimately, she murders Macbeth: half-naked, she straddles him and ejaculates her own liquid – poison – down his throat (3.22). [Fig. 1]Richard turns the quill on her, however, at least symbolically, during a contentious, post-coital exchange. As she does repeatedly throughout the narrative, Lady Macbeth checks Richard’s masculinity, this time refusing to relinquish her Black Guards for his use. Taunting him with the connection between Shakespeare’s textual and sexual prowess, Lady Macbeth sarcastically asks Richard “How will you use Will’s quill? Your arm is built for the sword.” Richard answers by aggressively penetrating her (6.10-11). [Fig. 2]

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

The connections between quill, Shakespeare’s erotic body, his writing, and his life-giving power are explicit in the series. Later, a courtesan makes the analogy explicitly to a demure Hamlet: “Would it please my lord to dip his quill into my inkwell?” (3.14). [Fig. 3] Falstaff gets a laugh out of Hamlet’s bashfulness: “That one is no wordsmith. He would leave your well dry” (3.15). In the allusion to the Bard, Shakespeare’s ample use of ink evinces his multiple expressions of virility. In other words, when Shakespeare’s in his true form, his Will (in every sense) is performing well: his quill is always good and ready for a dip. The text’s prominent quill topoi insists on Shakespeare as a physical phenomenon and in doing so builds up the reader’s anticipation and desire for his imminent encounter with Hamlet. Furthermore, this encounter is not simply heterosexual. Through Lady Macbeth, the quill becomes a means of homoerotic connection: in order to get to Shakespeare’s quill, she declares, “Hamlet will breach Shakespeare’s forest” and they will “die” together (7.2) – a prediction played out pictorially in later frames when Hamlet and Shakespeare finally meet.

Shakespeare's Erect Quill

In his first act as The Shadow King, under the jurisdiction of Richard III, Hamlet reveals a path to Shakespeare’s lair (2.5). [Fig. 4] This opening in the woods is a striking vaginal – or perhaps anal – image suggestive of all the allusions to holes and pits in Titus Andronicus’s woods that are heavy-handed sexual double-entendres.8 In later depictions of Hamlet’s passage through these woods, he becomes increasingly emboldened, penetrating the dark orifice with sword aloft.

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Kill Shakespeare positions Hamlet’s (and our) first sighting of Shakespeare’s body as the climactic moment in the narrative. Yet Kill Shakespeare’s freshly conceived, original Shakespeare looks nothing like the familiar portraitures of Cobbe, Droeshout, and Chandos. In Issue 9, a series of shadowed frames end with the dramatic reveal of Shakespeare’s haggard, drunk form surrounded by empty bottles (9.16-8). [Fig. 5] These bottles suggest drained phalluses, the symbolic equivalent of his limp and idle body and the opposite of the ink-filled quill Shakespeare wields when in a potent, authorial and authoritative state – that is, when he could create his children/characters. At this moment, Shakespeare is un-penned and un-manned. As Hamlet confronts him with accusations of neglect, Lady Macbeth’s enchanted dagger (the resolutely homicidal purpose of which stands in clever contrast with Macbeth’s inward, enigmatic “dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain” [2.1.38-9]) begins its attack on the men. Lady Macbeth takes on the male role to which she aspires in Macbeth; in her stabbing attempts, she also stages the likeness of an exclusively male, homoerotic penetration between Hamlet and Shakespeare. The proximity of Hamlet and Shakespeare to one another and the wild stabbing motions of the knife pictorially enact Lady Macbeth’s suggestive description of this meeting. Like the quill, the dagger also evokes the penetration of both male and female bodies. As we will see, this provocative scene precipitates Shakespeare’s triumphant return to his people and his evolution from God to mortal.

Fig. 6

In Issue 11, Shakespeare abandons his alcohol and seclusion to join the Prodigals and starts to physically transform. In some sense, he takes the path of Hamlet, whom we’ve seen grow muscles, sexual swagger, and the skill to woo Juliet away from Romeo — a sea-change from the meek Hamlet teased by the courtesan of earlier on. In the battle against his enemies, Shakespeare is first dominated by Richard III in a scene that also looks almost homoerotic, with Shakespeare at the receiving end until the Bard is able to access his quill (12.1-3, 6-9). [Figs. 6, 7, 8] Shakespeare can use a quill and a sword, both rendered pictorially as erotic tools in this triumphant scene. Shakespeare’s body, significantly more manly and sexual now, hovers over Richard’s in a transformation of the Shakespeare of Fig. 5, his quill in phallic position as if post-coitus. [Fig. 9] It appears to be dripping blood, which is to say both ink and ejaculate. Furthermore, at this moment, his identity is rendered as entirely physical. He is also entirely human. Kill Shakespeare creates the character Shakespeare as a God-Bard-Father-Wizard only to debunk his godly identity. After killing Richard III, Shakespeare disavows his responsibilities as a Father and creator. Ultimately, he yearns for a mortal existence that would liberate him from the role of elusive and powerful God.

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

Shakespeare's Flesh and Blood

When Hamlet first discovered Shakespeare, the Bard-God-Father-Wizard was a deflated specimen of a man, especially in contrast to the increasingly virile Hamlet, who transforms from an insecure, grieving son to a fierce warrior and lover. But by the end of Issue 12, evident in the back matter of alternate cover art by illustrator Kagan McLeod and included with Kill Shakespeare Volume 2, we have a Shakespeare who stands tall, proud, and virile. [Fig. 10] A very physical Shakespeare, neither deified or defiled – a body, I would argue, that pleases with its beauty and arouses in us the satisfaction of possession. Kill Shakespeare ends with our anticipation of the next installment of the story, and also (if I may be so bold) with our hope for more of Shakespeare’s body — especially now that he has disavowed his role as Father/God and entreated Hamlet to convey his wishes to “live amongst [his] people” (12.25).

Fig. 10

What lies behind this desire for the physical Shakespeare in the narrative? The Prodigals want Shakespeare in flesh and blood in order to be reassured that their Creator is alive and well, caring for them like the God-Bard-Father-Wizard they imagine him to be. But for North American readers outside of the text, Kill Shakespeare expresses a fantasy of cultural possession. As a character in the mix, Shakespeare gets figuratively smudged and marked up – as if by the inky, original comic print itself – but not besmirched. The quest that ends with the triumph of Shakespeare’s virile, sexualized body is the fantasy of a Bardbody created in its textual and visual entirety by North American writers and illustrators. A titillating body intended to be consumed by their North American readers. This sexualized, increasingly visible Bardbody signifies an American move to both possess Shakespeare and to offer him validation and protection.

In a world where Shakespeare’s authenticity as an author can be challenged, the (American) form of the comic offers a stable site to house the Bard’s physical body. Although I do not focus on the authorship debate theme in this short exploration of the sexualized Bardbody, I believe that Kill Shakespeare must be understood in the context of this persistent inquiry. The story of a God-Bard-Father-Wizard whose “good” characters fear his abandonment in a world in which they are terrorized by Shakespearean villains expresses an earnest, distinctly North American affection for Shakespeare. This affection’s intense, pictorial form reads also as an urgent affirmation of Shakespeare’s authenticity — his identity as the true author of the work that bears his name. We desire this sensual, embodied Shakespeare, this Bardbody, quill at the ready, in order to affirm our intimacy with him. We want his body, I would contend, not to ruin him, but to be able to claim our carnal knowledge of him — a metaphor for our ability to do him again and again and again.


All images copyrighted by Kill Shakespeare. Andy Belanger, illustrator.

1To some extent, I conflate “American” and “North American” given Kill Shakespeare’s Canadian authorship. I do not intend to discredit investigations of Canada’s unique, nationalistic relationship with Shakespeare. For the purpose of my argument, however, both countries share an English-speaking “outsider” status vis-à-vis the authentic, high-brow Shakespeare that originates in England. Moreover, Canadian and American adaptations of Shakespeare have become enmeshed in the popular culture of both countries. I would argue that to understand how (North) American perceptions of and reactions to Shakespeare have changed over the last couple of decades, it is necessary to consider the interplay between Shakespearean scholarship and art produced across the continent. Kill Shakespeare does not imagine an exclusively North American audience, but this is a crucial readership that shapes the meaning of the product.

2I would be remiss not to mention the film Anonymous in this context. Notably, the film depicts a sleazy, lustful Shakespeare, his slovenly body always exposed and vulgar in an unbuttoned shirt. Like the Shakespeare the film attempts to portray, the Shakespearean body is denigrated as common; he is, in one scene, literally handled by the masses, the groundlings who pull him from the stage, raise him aloft, and pass him around (to Shakespeare’s great delight).

3A similar scene, in which an old hag uses her taloned finger to stab Shakespeare anally, occurs in Faye Kellerman’s romance novel The Quality of Mercy (273).

4I discuss Jong’s depiction of Shylock’s daughter at length in my essay “Shall We End This Strife?”

5Falstaff, who enlightens Hamlet with details of Richard’s pillaging of villages and murder of innocent citizens, professes his unshakeable loyalty to Shakespeare, despite the God/Father/Poet’s seeming abandonment of his creations: “I believe [Shakespeare] shall return to renew this world’s beauty” (3.13).

6In his historical overview, Arie Kaplan establishes the deep roots of Jewish illustrators and writers in the American comic book industry. Initially drawn to the industry by economic opportunity, Jews also found the product appealing for its mainstream, quintessentially “American” quality. Ironically, the genre would become shaped by artists trying to reconcile their ethnic Jewishness with their inchoate American identities. The cultural experiences of first-generation, immigrant Jews, he contends, have profoundly influenced the characters, plotlines, and themes of the genre.

7Citations of Kill Shakespeare refer to issue number and page number. Volume 1 contains Issues 1-5. Volume 2 contains Issues 6-12.

8After Lavinia is brutally raped by Chiron and Demetrius in the woods, subsequent descriptions of the pit into which her murdered husband Bassianus is thrown evokes this act of sexual violence. It is a "bloodstained hole" (2.3.110), a "swallowing womb" (2.3.239), a "detested, dark, blood-drinking pit" (2.3.224) full of "ragged entrails" (2.3.230).

Works Cited

Anonymous. Dir. Roland Emmerich. Columbia Pictures, 2011. Film.

Burt, Richard. Unspeakable Shaxxxspeares: Queer Theory and American Kiddie Culture. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Print.

---. “What the Puck?: Screening the (Ob)scene in Bardore Midsummer Night’s Dreams and the Transmediatic Technologies of Tactility.” Shakespeare on Screen: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin. Rouen: Publications de l’Université de Rouen, 2004. 57–86. Print.

Ephraim, Michelle. “Shall We End This Strife?: The Rehabilitation of Jessica’s Jewish Identity in the Contemporary Feminist Novel.” Countering Shylock as a Jewish Stereotype. Ed. Michael Shapiro and Edna Nahshon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming. Print.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. New York: Norton, 2005. Print.

Jong, Erica. Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice. New York: Norton, 2003. Print. Rpt. of Serenissima, 1987.

Kaplan, Arie. From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2008. Print.

Kellerman, Faye. The Quality of Mercy. New York: William Morrow, 1989. Print.

McCreery, Conor, Anthony del Col, and Andy Belanger. Kill Shakespeare. Vol 1. San Diego, CA: IDW Publishing, 2010. Print.

---. Kill Shakespeare. Vol 2. San Diego, CA: IDW Publishing, 2011. Print.

Shapiro, James. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Print.

---. A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. New York: Harper, 2006. Print.

Teague, Frances. Shakespeare and the American Popular Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.


Michelle Ephraim is Associate Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is the author of Reading the Jewish Woman on the Elizabethan Stage (Ashgate, 2008) as well as numerous scholarly articles on Shakespearean drama and other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature. Her personal essays and humor pieces on Shakespeare as well as other topics have appeared in The Washington Post, Lilith, Tikkun, The Morning News, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Folger Shakespeare Institute Magazine, Errant Parent, Word Riot, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. The forthcoming Kill Shakespeare: Ultimate Edition will include her essay on the comic book's portrayal of Lady Macbeth. Ephraim also authors a blog, Everyday Shakespeare, with Caroline Bicks (Boston College), and is currently working on a book project that combines Shakespeare scholarship and memoir.

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