Asian Embodiment of a White Canon: Shakespeare and East Asia

Speaker: Alexa Alice Joubin
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2021-11-11 | 20:30-22:00 (Shanghai)
2021-11-11 | 7:30-9:00 (New York)
2021-11-11 | 16:30-18:00 (Abu Dhabi)

How do actors reposition their racialized bodies on stage and on screen? How did Akira Kurosawa influence George Lucas’ Star Wars? Why do critics repeatedly use the adjective Shakespearean to describe Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019)? How do East Asian cinema and theatre portray vocal disability? How do Korean transgender cinema and East Asian feminism transform gender identities in Shakespeare? Bringing film and theatre studies together, this presentation sheds new light on the two major genres in a comparative context and reveals deep connections among Asian and Anglophone performances.

The talk is based on Alexa Alice Joubin’s new book, Shakespeare and East Asia (Oxford University Press, 2021). The book identifies four themes that distinguish post-1950s East Asian cinemas and theatres from works in other parts of the world: Japanese formalistic innovations in sound and spectacle; reparative adaptations from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; the politics of gender and reception of films and touring productions in South Korea and the UK; and multilingual, diaspora works in Singapore and the UK. These adaptations are reshaping debates about the relationship between East Asia and Europe.

Film Clips Discussed

One Husband Too Many, a Hong Kong film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet

Chicken Rice War, a Singaporean adaptation of Romeo and Juliet

The King and the Clown, a Korean transgender film inspired by Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew

Further Reading

Alexa Alice Joubin writes about race, gender, and cultural globalization. She teaches in the Departments of English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Theatre, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she co-founded and co-directs the Digital Humanities Institute. Her latest book, Shakespeare and East Asia, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. She co-authored Race with Martin Orkin, which was published in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series in 2019.

You can follow her work at

Introduction by Anandi Rao, Global Perspectives on Society Postdoctoral Fellow at NYU Shanghai.



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