Original Pronunciation and the United States: The Case of <i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream</i> by Paul Meier (2010, 2012)


In 2004 Romeo and Juliet in Original Pronunciation (OP) was staged at Shakespeare’s Globe, inaugurating what Crystal would later define the OP movement (2016) - a movement aiming to restore the original sound of both the literary and non-literary works of the past. While academic literature suggests an irregular theatrical interest in the Shakespearean OP in the UK, it also demonstrates that such restoratory projects have proven increasingly appealing to the US audiences. The reasons why the North American theater goers' are attracted to the Shakespearean OP remain unclear. Based on a qualitative analysis of interviews with Paul Meier, the director of the theatrical and radio production A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010, 2012) and two of his cast members, and complementing the findings with the study of promotional and non-promotional articles concerning the productions, this paper aims to shed light on the rationale behind the North American fascination with the Shakespearean OP. As Meier’s reflections gravitate towards the identity of the US as a former British colony, this study, relying extensively on literature review, is carried out both through the lens of literary/cultural history and of historical linguistics. Finally, though limited in its scope, this paper intends to pave the way for further studies on the relationship between the allure of the OP and the US culture, and thereby  to enrich the area of investigation concerning Shakespeare's reception in the US and his role in the American culture.


Original Pronunciation; Theatrical production; Radio production; Paul Meier; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Shakespeare Studies; Transatlantic American Studies

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Published : 2022-12-31

RussoE. (2022). Original Pronunciation and the United States: The Case of <i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream</i&gt; by Paul Meier (2010, 2012). Review of International American Studies, 15(2), 211-231. https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.13757

Emiliana Russo  russoemiliana1@gmail.com
Sapienza University of Rome & University of Silesia in Katowice  Italy

Emiliana Russo is a Ph.D. student at Sapienza University in Rome. She holds a B.A. in English and German Languages and Literatures from the University of Naples L’Orientale, and an M.A. in Translation, Linguistic, and Literary Studies from Sapienza University of Rome. In 2016, she was granted a research scholarship with the Globe Theatre in London. In 2018, she was a recipient of the FLTA scholarship (Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program) and, between September 2019 and May 2020, she was a Senior Language Fellow at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. Her main interests are Shakespeare’s reconstructed pronunciation, literary linguistics, and L2 Italian.

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