Last semester, I was invited by the Vietnam National University to come to Hanoi an lecture on Shakespeare. Thanks to a generous grant from the Faculty Development Committee of the University of Northwestern—St. Paul, I was able to accept the invitation. In fact, I leave tomorrow morning at two o'clock a.m.
During the lectures, I hope to engage in field research about Vietnamese perspectives on and reactions to Shakespeare. I have prepared a series of questionnaires to distribute after my lectures; I hope to learn much and to start to refine my ideas of Shakespeare around the globe.
One question I have for the students is "Tác giả nào anh chị coi là Shakepspeare của Việt Nam? Tại sao?" For those of us who, like me, don't speak vietnamese, that translates to "Who would you consider the Shakespeare of Vietnam to be and why?" I'm not sure what answers that will elicit (though I think The Tale of Kieu is likely to come up somewhere), and that's fascinating.
I'll also be eliciting responses from the Vietnamese students and faculty members on how they would retell certain plays—Hamlet, for example—in a Vietnamese setting. The image above is of a graphic novel of Hamlet in Vietnamese that I'll use to help convey the narrative.
This will be a whirlwind tour, but I'll try to find time to update you, my alert readers, about what I learn—and I anticipate that it will be a very great deal.
Bonus for those who have read this far: A blurb—in Vietnamese—about Shakespeare!