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Postgraduate Shakespeares / Postdiscipline Shakespeares

Postgraduate Shakespeares / Postdiscipline Shakespeares

This seminar invites papers from postgraduate students on any aspect of Shakespeare Studies. 'First papers' are welcome. Additionally, the seminar invites reflection on ways of working that might be considered 'interdisciplinary', 'multidisciplinary' or 'across disciplines'. Participants may consider the usefulness of these terms as a minor or major part of their papers. The 'cultural turn' encouraged us to consider the idea that literary texts in English and performance texts might be understood in relation to other bounded disciplines such as history, politics, economics, geography and art. Are these boundaries now so imprecise and malleable, and untenable in the context of a global aesthetic (whose geography? whose history?) that Shakespeare inhabits a postdisciplinary present? Importantly, the study of English as a bounded discipline cannot itself escape these challenges, requiring us to re-examine our reader positions and to rethink Western and Eurocentric mindsets.

This seminar was chaired by Maria Jones ( ) and Claire Cochrane ( ). For more information about specific papers, please contact the participants individually. Contact details are listed at the bottom of each abstract.


Yvette K. Khory: Being and Time in Mamduh ‘Adwan’s Hamlit Yastayqizu Muta’khkhiran (Hamlet Wakes up Late)

Mamduh ‘Adwan wrote Hamlet Wakes up Late in the aftermath of the Six-Day-War, which the Arabs lost to the State of Israel (June 1967). The play was published some nine years later in al-Mawqif al-Adabi (The Arabic Stance 65 - 66, 1976). Hamlet Wakes up Late begins with the deadly swordfight between Hamlet and Laertes. Horatio, the storyteller by name (orator OED), is called al-Rawi (the narrator) that subsequent to the swordfight stands up, faces the audience and begins to narrate the story of Hamlet in a series of alternate flashbacks and forwards .

Horatio begins his narration by saying, ‘In ancient China, when they became crossed with someone and wanted to curse them, they would tell him: “May the goddess grant you life in a momentous time”. We read this expression, but didn’t discover it is [true] meaning until we realised we were living in crucial times.’ What ‘momentous time’ is Horatio referring to? How significant was the loss of the Six-Day-War on ‘Adwan’s generation? Why did ‘Adwan choose to tell his generation’s story through Hamlet? And how could ‘Adwan’s Hamlet be in that ‘momentous time’?

This paper crosses several disciplines as it tries to address some of the above questions. The multiplicity of disciplines include linguistic (Arabic / English), cultural (Middle Eastern / European) and the tradition of Shakespearean established canon and ‘Adwan’s inventive writing (drama / poetic-narration).

St. John's College, Oxford. 


Ann Kronbergs: Meeting points for Renaissance stagecraft and statecraft: the court performances of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in 1611 and 1613

The court performances of The Tempest in 1611 and 1613 were political as well as dramatic occasions whose significance is now almost lost “in the dark backward and abysm of time” (T: 1.2 l50). In 1611 the play’s first performance at Whitehall to King James I & VI was central to the court entertainment at Hallowmass, whereas in its next performance to the court, in 1613, The Tempest was a minor part of the elaborate royal entertainment programme designed to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Frederick the Elector Palatine.

This paper considers what can be known about these two performances in terms of the text and its actors, the royal venues and aristocratic audience and the reports of foreign ambassadors which show individual response to the drama. The cultural milieu of the court and the underlying ideologies in evidence in masque entertainments and occasional verse produced for the Palatine Wedding celebrations will also be discussed.

KU Leuven, Belgium


Adam Putz: Early Irish Reprints of Shakespeare and the Shakespearean Repertoire in Early Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Recent critical emphasis on the circumstances surrounding Shakespeare’s canonization in England during the eighteenth century offers scholars the opportunity to similarly situate Shakespeare in Irish literary history. For example, by reading Shakespeare’s early eighteenth-century resurgence on the Dublin stage in this way points to the significant roles that those in the theatre and publishing businesses played alongside editors and critics in shaping Shakespeare’s initial Irish reception. Unfortunately, recent studies of Shakespeare in Ireland tend to reduce the relationship between early Irish audiences and his plays to a question of politics, ignoring what little these audiences actually knew about Shakespeare before his works appeared under the Irish imprints of George Grierson and others in Dublin. Overlooking the benefits that an interdisciplinary approach affords, scholars instead present an asymmetrical view of Shakespeare’s early reception in Ireland as particularly political. In my paper, then, I examine the impact that Irish reprints of Shakespeare had on the Dublin repertoire during the early eighteenth century. It thus appears that a full decade before the Tonson-Walker row in London, Irish publishers happily set about making a name for Shakespeare play-by-play at Dublin’s bookstalls by capitalizing on the public’s increasing appreciation of Shakespeare as the author of their favourite tragedies on the stage and now the page.

University of Minnesota


Jami Rogers: Much Ado, Sicilian Style

Since the 1930s, Shakespearean productions have often fallen into the category of 'period drama'. This is apparent not only in the attempts at recreating an Elizabethan theatrical aesthetic at the new Globe Theatre, but also in the variety of countries and periods directors have chosen to place their productions. The way setting affects performance is an under-researched area of theatrical criticism and the purpose of this paper is to show that Shakespeare as 'period drama' does, in fact, affect performance. The case study for this paper is Gregory Doran's Sicilian-set 2002 production of Much Ado About Nothing. Doran and his actors were able to make clear in performance patriarchal issues, which are often latent in production. Focusing on act 4, scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing, my paper will attempt to demonstrate how the Sicilian setting functioned in performance and why it was, in the words of The Guardian's critic Michael Billington, that he had '…rarely seen the church scene…better done.' By analysing actors' relationships onstage with each other, as well as their movement and body language, I aim to show that Doran's Sicilian setting, by using a more familiar—to a modern audience—patriarchal culture, his production illuminated aspects of the play which have been difficult in modern performance.

Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham


Susan Ronald: ‘The Lost Years’ How an Approach Across Disciplines can Reinvigorate Our Understanding of Shakespeare

Shakespeare Studies have progressed to embrace other disciplines including history, politics, religion, economics and even medicine. New historicism has found much of its popularity in this multi-disciplinary approach. This seminar will look at the dangers of over-emphasizing these influences, as well as exposing the treasures a multi-disciplinary approach to ‘the lost years’ can bring. I will ask, what fascinates us so much about Shakespeare’s early years, and are they truly ‘lost’? How did his ‘ordinary life’ – lived in extraordinary and apocalyptic times – leave such an indelible imprint on our lives? Is it possible to discern an imprint of his early life in his work? I will draw on several examples of published works, and some of my research into the ‘lost years’, to illustrate. The seminar will show how, when handled dispassionately, a multi-disciplinary approach to the ‘lost years’ can overlap layers of fact and probability to create the most likely past in the same way historians do. Above all, the aim is to reinvigorate discussion of the ‘lost years’ by showing how an approach across disciplines to research can open our eyes.


Wan-yu Lin: Shakespeare at Undergraduate Level: Reasons for Teaching According to an Interview with a Professor

The argument of my thesis is positioned within the context of current research on the history and development of Shakespeare Studies in universities in England. I interviewed Shakespeare teachers, in order to explicate the themes and patterns of reasoning emerged at the interviews concerning teaching objectives. This paper discusses and analyses the interview conducted in February 2006, with one Professor of Seventeenth Century Literature, in a university in the north of England. The paper is divided into the following three parts. First, through the interview, the professor tells how he has arrived at his position. How he perceives this position, and the way he talks about this aspect are crucial to the current study. For this purpose, he was asked to talk about his education background. Secondly, a comparison between his research and his teaching is made. ‘Imagination’ as a skill stands out as a key concept in his argument. Thirdly, an analysis is done on his teaching objectives and his comments on students in the context of his teaching. He puts emphasis on Shakespeare’s language, and points out his awareness that students today tend to have a vague grasp of knowledge of history and religion, which suggests a lack of an essential interdisciplinary context. The study analyses the interview with reference to recent research on the condition and status of English as a discipline at undergraduate level.

University of York