Panel 6: Shakespearean mystifications

The notion of “mystification” has been used by critics with reference to the cultural and political dexterities of Shakespeare works. Cultural studies in particular have insisted on aspects of language and imagery in Shakespeare that alternatively work to mystify or demystify early modern (or current) assumptions. Shakespearean theatre, Shakespearean texts, and periodically even Shakespeare as a historical persona are there for us either to demystify or to appraise in view of their demystifying thrust.

Marxist-oriented readings take mystification as a “plausible misrepresentation of what is going on (process) or what is being done (praxis) in the service of the interests of one socioeconomic class (the exploiters) over or against another class (the exploited)” (Laing, Mystification, Confusion and Conflict, 1965). Yet, other far-reaching theories of mystification in literature and elsewhere exist, for instance Burke (A Rhetoric of Motives, 1969), Felperin (Shakespearean Representations, 1977), Lefebvre and Guterman (La Conscience Mystifiée, 1999), Robinson (Philosophy and Mystification: a reflection on nonsense and clarity, 2003), and recently Abramson (Learning from Lying: Paradoxes of Literary Mystification, 2006).

Current views on mystification broadly, and on literary mystification in particular, tend to highlight its heuristic potential and the interpretative freedom it promotes, behind and beyond issues of ideological compliance. Accordingly, the cultural and socio-economic upheaval scholars traditionally associate with late 16th century London (its literature, its playwrights and its theatrical politics) would seem to warrant further and wider investigation, featuring Shakespeare as an exemplary case study.

Papers are invited on any literary or cultural aspect of Shakespearean or early modern mystification. Questions may address for instance:

 Practices of mystification in early modern Europe: scopes and definitions

 Mystification and mystery: theological models and literary counterparts

 Mystification, art, and theatrical representation in Elizabethan theatre

 Mystification and the figurative use of emblems in Shakespeare

 The aesthetics of literary mystification in Shakespeare and his interpreters

 Strategies of mystification in Shakespeare’s plays and poems: characters, language, performance

 Mystification in literary rite and religious ritual: Shakespeare’s approach

 Bardolatry: literary and Ideological mystifications of the Shakespearean canon

 Mystification of authorship

 Literary and political mystification in the performance and the reception of Shakespeare’s plays

 Mystification and Shakespearean criticism: textual cruxes and political choices

 The changing faces of Shakespearean mystification in literary history

 Mystification and the perpetuation of Elizabethan knowledge

 Mystification and Reformation zeal

 Mystification and the literary uses of paradox

The format of this panel is that of a seminar. Instead of having participants present their work, (short) papers will be circulated before the conference to ensure maximum time for dialogue amongst participants. During the seminar, we will focus on discussing individual approaches.

Please send a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper by September 20th, 2013 to [->] stating your name, email address, and affiliation.