"This ain't got nuttin' to do with my life": Art and imitation in Romeo and Juliet


Michael Macaluso, & Kati Macaluso (Eds.)

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date


Publication Title

Teaching the Canon in 21st Century Classrooms: Challenging Genres


Brill Sense

Publisher Location

Leiden, Netherlands


What does a study of Shakespearean language look like in a predominantly visual/digital culture? In this chapter, Romeo and Juliet (R&J) is paired with the 2015 documentary, Romeo is Bleeding. In the film, black youth from a Spoken Word performance group subvert Shakespearean language to present a counterstory that challenges stereotypes of community violence, youth, and love. The play is written in both Shakespeare’s words and those of the Richmond, California community. Students of Shakespeare can make vivid, contemporary connections to the conflicts that drive the tragedy of R&J. The juxtaposition of different periods in the two works underscores the timelessness of R&J. Student work from an urban high school English class includes social media characterization, scene rewrites around current issues, and lessons in the power of languages.


language, critical literacy