Shakespeare Bulletin Videos
These videos are featured in our article titled "'Everyone in illyria is bi you absolute cowards': Shakespeare TikTok, Twelfth Night, and the Search for a Queer Utopia." It was published in Shakespeare Bulletin 40.4 (Winter, 2022) .
Article abstract: As TikTok continues to cement itself as the most popular social media platform in the world, the nuanced ways that Shakespeare nerds use the platform to display their digital fandom remains understudied. This essay addresses how Shakespeare TikTokers (“ShakesTokers”) use the platform to create a queer utopia, and specifically how this utopia manifests in the usage of Twelfth Night as a queer touchstone. In this piece, we consider ShakesTokers’ readings of the text as a fluid space of gender and identity in order to show how the dramaturgy of Twelfth Night aligns with Gen Z politics and aesthetics which inform TikTok’s culture at large. We look at ShakesTok readings of Twelfth Night’s characters, how these readings manifest a queer utopia, the trope of cross-dressing, and how mini performances of and inspired by Twelfth Night saturate themselves in queer readings of this text and its characters. We argue that Twelfth Night is the epicenter of TikTok’s critical Shakesqueer. This critical lens allows TikTok users opportunities to engage with the text of Shakespeare’s plays on their own terms, and to extend ownership of the text into spaces that are familiar to them. In so doing, they enact a well-worn paradigm of Shakespearean textual analysis in fresh ways, enabled by the digital tools at their disposal. By closely examining Twelfth Night TikTok, this article sheds new light on the little acknowledged role that Shakespeare plays in forming mainstream TikTok culture which may be key to developing a new generation of Shakespearean audiences.
Fig. 2. @nofearshakesqueer, “Everyone in illyria is bi you absolute cowards.”
Fig. 3. @lungthief, “twelfth night, a summary.”
Fig. 4. @kaicfox, “u asked for twelfth night HERE.”
Fig. 5. @kaicfox, “yeah.”