The project studies how 'Hamlet', Shakespeare's most iconic play, has entered European cultures (with a focus on England), and how it has offered them images and phrases to articulate their concerns. The project also investigates how the cultural status of Hamlet continues to be underpinned by the wide use of phrases like "To be, or not to be", "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" or "The rest is silence", but how such phrases may also lose any association with their source and become idiomatic. It thus covers issues in several disciplines: literary studies, linguistics and cultural studies.
The project is developing the HyperHamlet database, which makes quotations from the play available in an open-access hypertext edition of 'Hamlet' /(http://www.hyperhamlet.unibas.ch/). All entries are searchable for linguistic as well as literary features.The structure of the database represents a new model for the study of intertextual relationships, which may also be applied to other works of literature.
The project is associated with the English and German departments of the University and financed by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation running from 2006-2010.