Focus on "Henry V":

Navigating Digital Text, Performance, & Historical Resources

About this Book

Audio File

This peer-reviewed, digital multimedia book is an open educational resource authored by students and faculty at the University of Georgia (UGA) and Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (UPVM3). Focus on “Henry V” also serves as the capstone of a three-year collaboration, with the support of the Partner University Fund/French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation (PUF/FACE) between UGA and UPVM3, “Scene-Stealing/Ravir la scène.” From 2016-2019 teams of faculty and students from France and the the US visited each other’s institutions and worked together on research projects and publications that focused on a single type of “scene” in early modern or Enlightenment drama in English or in French. In 2016 UGA and UPVM3 collaborated on the conference-festival “Balcony Scenes” at UPVM3, which brought together scholars from three continents to talk about the so-called balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; in 2017 UGA and UPVM3 jointly hosted an international conference on “Bedchamber Scenes/Scènes de lit” in Early Modern European Drama at UGA and a work session on “Scenes in the Other’s Language” at UPVM3; in 2018 the UGA and UPVM teams collaborated on a field study trip to Savannah, Georgia, on a series of presentations on bilingual scenes in Shakespeare’s Henry V at UGA and on an international conference, “Scenes in the Other's Language.” “Scenes in the Other’s Language” considered scenes by early modern British and French playwrights that involved communication across two languages, explicitly identified as such within the text, and the stage histories of such scenes. The teams also visited local schools, where we talked about Shakespeare, citizenship, and theatre. Selected peer-reviewed and revised proceedings from this series of gatherings have been or will be published in the open-access, peer-reviewed, online, multimedia journals Arrêt sur scène/Scene Focus or Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation

From the beginning of the collaboration, however, co-P.I.s Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin (UPVM3) and Sujata Iyengar (UGA) envisioned another publication: one that would fully involve the undergraduate and graduate students who attended or participated in the conferences or who traveled between France and the USA. We decided, first, that an online open-access educational resource with high-level, peer-reviewed essays both by established academics and by graduate students would be the most appropriate vehicle to display students’ talent and to make scholarly materials accessible to everyone. Then we selected Shakespeare’s Henry V, with its controversial portrayal of English and French history, its ambiguous marriage between the King of England and the Princess of France, its rich cinematic history, and perhaps the best-known bilingual scenes in the Shakespearean canon, as the play on which our digital book would focus.

Thanks to a Learning Technologies Grant (LTG) from the University Systems of Georgia, the resource’s student involvement, and its potential contribution to the scholarship of teaching and learning, became even richer. Our LTG funded us to hire and train a team comprising undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD students to serve as technical, art, and multimedia editors so that we could bring high standards of design and readability to the online publication format. Beautifully designed books and websites, we believe, are more likely to be used by students and by teachers at all levels. Our technical editors additionally gained extensive experience with the processes of publishing and copy-editing. Finally, our LTG funded us to include rich audio description of the archival maps and historic photographs of performances that we have included, and to make sure that there are clear and correct English subtitles on video excerpts. Future editions of this resource will include even more student-authored contributions, including annotations to the scholarly essays; additional ekphrasis or image description; original student-authored mini-essays on scenes or parts of scenes; and possibly other types of contribution that we can’t imagine yet.

In 2019 the UGA team made its final visit to UPVM3 to display and discuss the “beta-version” of this resource to focus groups and to the team members in France. With the publication of the first edition of this resource scheduled for August 31, 2019, the official three-year partnership will come to an end, although the publication itself will remain in use and, we plan and hope, will go through future editions with additional student contributions.


Although this book may be navigated non-sequentially, its essays follow a coherent order. It begins with a brief overview of the textual history of the early printed editions of Henry V (Daniel Yabut’s essay), and a survey of selected  sources that Shakespeare used to create the play (Mikaela LaFave’s essay). Nora Galland’s and Charlène Cruxent’s pieces take us from these paratexts (Yabut’s brief editorial history) and antecedent texts (LaFave) to individual scene-analyses. Cruxent’s contribution both builds on the information provided in Yabut’s textual survey to argue for  the placement of Act 4, Scene 4 (the scene between Pistol and the French Captain, Le Fer) right after King Henry “galvaniz[es] his troops,” and stands alone as an intervention that identifies the roles of onomastics (naming), vituperation (cursing), paronomasia (puns) and (mis)translation perform in challenging Henry V’s ostensible ideal of a “United” kingdom of Britain. Nora Galland’s essay similarly develops concerns surrounding race, ethnicity, and language previously discussed in the book and works as a free-standing discussion of rhetorical figures of abuse (insultatio, execratioabominatio, invective) in light of critical race theory and postcolonial studies.

Janice Valls-Russell’s and Florence March’s essays shift us from page to stage, with temporal and geographic foci respectively. The former’s essay traces a stage history of Shakespeare’s play over the past four decades (“From the Falklands War to Brexit,” as her title puts it), and identifies an “arc”  or range of differently politicized stagings that depend on current events for their power. The latter’s article explores the historical dearth of performances of Henry V in France and the ways in which festival performances in Southern France were able to recuperate through imaginative framing what many had considered an irredeemably anti-Gallic play. Valls-Russell’s essay additionally focuses on the scenes between Katherine and Henry and the changing portrayal of the princess over the decades, notably the development of feminist or non-traditional or non-binary approaches towards social gender and gendered characters on stage. Philip Gilreath’s essay explores the afterlife of Henry V in popular Anglophone culture, from Hollywood blockbuster movies to cult computer games and comic books, while Julia Koslowsky’s concentrates on the specific changes that Lawrence Olivier made to the script of the Chorus in his 1944 film of the play. The book concludes with a set of lesson plans tailored for US middle- and high-school classroom use, by Hayden Benson, followed by jointly-authored discussion questions or essay directives for college classrooms (also linked to particular essays within this book). The volume ends with short summaries of key scenes and speeches and a link to the Folger Digital Editions text of Henry V.

Formative Assessments and Open Peer-Review Process

Over a period of two years, Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin and Sujata Iyengar solicited papers on Henry V from faculty and PhD students at UGA and UPVM3 at a series of study days at both institutions. We selected those that seemed most appropriate for publication in this volume based on the following criteria: is this essay accurate, well-documented, and well-argued? Is the topic of interest or utility to teachers and students? Does this essay bring original research, or a fresh approach to a familiar subject? Is this essay appropriately structured for on-screen reading? Will this essay integrate multimedia in a way helpful to students and teachers? Iyengar and Vienne-Guerrin, as editors, gave each author detailed feedback. We then circulated the essays among the entire group of contributors for review for accuracy, clarity, and style, and asked contributors to revise their work according to the comments, suggestions, and corrections made by team members. The entire resource was then evaluated in beta form in focus groups of faculty and PhD students external to the project at UGA and UPVM3, with an eye both to content and to the layout and accessibility of the book online. Formative assessors answered the following questions: Is this resource easy to navigate? What kinds of layouts or instructions might help teachers or students find the information they seek? Does this resource look attractive and is it easy to read? And do you spot any errors or inconsistencies? Are there places where authors could sharpen their arguments or strengthen their evidence? Where, if anywhere, would you appreciate additional multimedia?

Peer-reviewers from UGA and UPVM3 who were not part of the contributor or digital editing team included Jean-Christophe Mayer, Miriam Jacobson, Nicholas Myers, Anna Forrester, and Sarah Mayo. Peer-reviewers from other institutions included Sarah Hatchuel (now at UPVM3 but at that time at the University of Le Havre), who evaluated the accuracy and quality of the argument in the essays, and the resource's usability, and Annie Johnson (Temple University), who evaluated the project's navigability and technical quality. These institutional and external reviewers gave us formative assessment more than once, sharing their comments not only with the project's editors, Iyengar and Vienne-Guerrin, but also with all contributors and technical editors. At the time of writing (June 2019), we are soliciting final comments from our external reviewers.

Julia Koslowsky's essay took a slightly different trajectory. We had not originally intended to include undergraduate work in this resource, but Julia's professor Fran Teague (UGA) recommended her essay for publication. Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin and Sujata Iyengar asked Julia to revise her essay by foregrounding her argument, by deepening her engagement with secondary scholarly sources, and by adding multimedia. At the time of writing, Julia's essay is awaiting further review by our external assessors.

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