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Precarious Figurations

Shylock on the German Stage, 1920–2010

Precarious Figurations focuses on the reception of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Germany. Looking at theatrical practices and critical or scholarly discourses from the Weimar Republic to the new millennium, the book explores why the play has served simultaneously as a vehicle for the actualization of anti-Semitic tropes and as a staging ground for the critical exposure of the very logic of anti-Semitism. In particular, the study investigates how the figure of Shylock has come to be both a device in and a stumbling block for attempts to bridge the fundamental rupture in civilization brought about by the Holocaust. The careful analysis of the German reception of Merchant, and in particular of the ways of doing and reading Shylock in the context of painful German, and German-Jewish, discourses of identity and remembrance, is designed to raise fundamental questions – questions concerning not only the staging of Jewishness, the tenacity of anti-Semitism and the difficulties of Holocaust remembrance, but also the general potentials and limitations of theatrical interventions into cultural conflicts.

Author Information

Zeno Ackermann, Julius-Maximilian-Universität, Würzburg, Germany; Sabine Schülting, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
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Audience: Scholars of Shakespeare Studies, German, Literary and Jewish Studies, Libraries, Institutes

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