Monumental Shakespeares: Remembering Shakespeare in 1916 and after
A work-in-progress colloquium
King’s College London | 10th December 2011
How was Shakespeare ‘remembered’ in opposite hemispheres in 1916? How were memories constructed, fabricated or supplanted by acts/objects of memorialisation or commemoration of Shakespeare, in the wake of the Tercentenary? What do we mean by these categories of ‘remembering’?
Remembering Shakespeare is a problem. Whatever the popular myth that all the world is Shakespeare’s stage, the evidence of his commemoration is that the public finds it difficult to make up its mind about how to remember Shakespeare and thus how to find appropriate material form for the memorialisation of a key marker of cultural specificity and hegemony. Shakespeare has a foundational role in various discourses of national culture – yet how should he be remembered? With a theatre? A statue? A library? A city square? Published works?
Funded by the Australian Research Council, ‘Monumental Shakespeares’ is a collaborative research project, held jointly by King’s College London and the University of Western Australia, and involving researchers working in London, Perth and Sydney. The project aims to elucidate the processes of commemoration in London and in Sydney for the Shakespeare Tercentenary in 1916, an occasion that gave rise to significant debates over the best ways to memorialise England’s ‘National Poet’ in the British Isles and across the Empire. The project seeks to juxtapose two material outcomes of the Tercentenary: the National Theatre in London – the eventual product, decades after the event, of fractious arguments over the appropriate way to mark the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – and the Sydney Shakespeare monument – also the result of debates about appropriate forms of public commemoration and, as an inevitable counterpart to engagement with England’s ‘national poet,’ about the politics of imperial relations. It also examines each within the larger contexts both of the varying forms of Shakespearean memorialisation and of the history and theory of commemoration. A comparison of these two drawn-out commemorations and of the debates and contexts from which they emerged will provide a focus for analysis of cultural heritage across nations and across time.
The 1916 tercentenary exemplifies Shakespeare’s perceived value as hegemonic cultural capital, and, drawing on pioneering work by Coppélia Kahn, Clara Calvo and Ton Hoenselaars – all speaking at the colloquium – we seek to explore the event’s afterlife, its influence on the subsequent understanding of Shakespeare in performance, in criticism and in popular culture in the UK, Australia and the wider world. While it focuses on Shakespeare, the project also aims more broadly to address larger issues of commemoration, cultural memory and national identities in the early twentieth century.
We are very pleased to welcome to King’s an exciting range of international speakers, who join the project’s own researchers for this day of discussion and exchange. The colloquium aims to open up new lines of enquiry and to extend the rapidly developing field of study that the Shakespeare Tercentenary has provoked over recent years. As well as presenting a series of papers around the topic, the colloquium will include – thanks to the generosity of the National Theatre – an exhibition space in which to view rare items relating to the research. as well as a round table discussion with leading experts in the field.
Clara Calvo (Murcia), Gavin Clarke (National Theatre), Ton Hoenselaars (Utrecht), Ailsa Grant Ferguson (King’s), Ann Isherwood (King’s), Coppélia Kahn (Brown), Gordon McMullan (King’s), Philip Mead (UWA), Andrew Murphy (St Andrews), Catherine Silverstone (Queen Mary) and Monika Smialkowska (Northumbria).
Please contact Dr. Ailsa Grant Ferguson at [->firstname.lastname@example.org] for further details and registration.