Shakespeare’s Spam Poethics


This essay argues that amidst the superfluous clutter of spam is a credible ethos combining the poetic consolation of the early modern sonneteer with the indulgent excesses of a capitalist precariat. William Shakespeare’s Will sonnets (135 and 136) are explored as early instances of spam in that they illustrate spam’s peculiar objective to deploy itself into fields of lively but redundant engagement. While experimenting with the conventions of the sonnet, an outmoded genre devoted to the particular disillusionment of precarious romance, Shakespeare recomposes willfulness as a critical ethos designed to function as a form of life in both emotional and material environments that prove hazardous to conventional forms of intimacy and survival.

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