Panel 17: Shakespeare and the Popular Culture within/beyond the Asian Identities

In the rapid process of globalization contemporary approaches to Shakespeare at large have been vastly diversified. Artistic creators and scholars around the world find new challenging ways to express their own cultural perspectives on a wide canvas framed by the name of Shakespeare. In Europe such endeavors to paint various colors of Shakespeare over their indigenous cultures have been incessantly made since the 1800s, initiatively with his plays being translated into the so-called major European languages such as French, German, Spanish, and even Russian. In Asia as well, Shakespeare enjoys a comparatively-short-but-very-unique history of translations and performances. Notably, recent challenges to Shakespeare in many of Asian countries seem to reflect the tendency to pull out their independent interpretations or translations of Shakespeare as a cultural capital over the western world in use of traditional art forms or aesthetics, which are taken uniquely Asian to the both eyes of Asian and non-Asian audiences.

Such recreations provide diverse levels of audiences in the area with double chances to reinterpret Shakespeare through their own perspectives while at the same time providing them a mirror with which to view their own theatrical cultural heritage. Hence, as one Japanese critic Kaori Kobayashi has once pointed out, “ironically, Shakespeare, the icon of western culture, seems to contribute to rediscovering Asian tradition or Asian identity”. Lately in such Asian countries as Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, it has been regarded quite noticeable that new tasks to recycle Shakespeare as potential ways to stand out any specific shapes of their own cultural aspects become prevailing. Undoubtedly their boundary goes far beyond the theatrical world expanding over to other commercial fields of mass media and pop culture.

Taiwan has noticed the proliferation of various styles of musical rendering of Shakespeare in which his plays are vividly rejuvenated. Japan has already positioned as an Oriental center of hybrid, “improper” or “tacky” Shakespeares. Diverse editions of Manga Shakespeare including a homosexual version came out to the market and all female Shakespeare productions hit the stages in Tokyo. In Korea comic adaptations of Shakespeare plays are on sale for the sake of children’s elite education and the plot of Hamlet was recycled for the narrative of a popular online game titled Mabinogi. Film makers from India and China zealously infused the archaic story of Shakespeare’s great tragedies with their real politik. In the Philippines colonized version of Spanish Shakespeare movies were rediscovered with reinterpretations.

Topics of this panel will include, but are not limited to, all the adaptations and recreations of Shakespeare on popular media — TV, music, film, gaming, comics, advertisements, blogs, internet sites etc. — made in mostly across the Asian countries or with at least Asian identities, or any connections with the western appropriation. This panel will particularly explore various questions concerning the ways in which Shakespeare has been commercially appropriated and circulated in the areas of popular media, and the issues of Shakespeare interacting with popular culture in Asian perspectives. The panel, consequently, will be a subjective arena to tackle with a new definition of such a controversial term “Asian Shakespeare/s” and its pertinent political and cultural discourses.

Proposals of about 250 words for a twenty-minute paper, plus a short bio should be sent to Kang Kim ([->]) by 20th August 2013. Decision will be announced in early September.

Seminar 12: ‘Green’ or Ecocritical Shakespeare: non-human nature as a character in his plays

Some of Shakespeare’s plays offer an endless riddle no matter how you approach them. The incomplete nature of a dramatic text plus the circumstances under which they were written/produced contribute to the wonder. So with Macbeth, with Hamlet, with The Tempest, with Midsummer Night’s Dream, hermeneutics has aimed at accounting for the marvellous without ever arriving at a fully satisfactory answer to the question whether that quality appear as part of the plot structure (cf. the ghost) or in the definition of the characters themselves (Cf. the Weird Sisters, Ariel and Caliban, the fairies).

By the time you come to King Lear or As you Like It, or to Othello, or again when you appreciate the concretisations of Akira Kurosawa or the Russians the issue of the role assigned to physical nature becomes unavoidable. In the splendid statement on King Lear that appears in the ASLE website at [->] Ralph Black, referring to the tv version of the play by Lawrence Olivier, wonders about ‘…the significance of the natural world in the play, the moments of clarity that all seem to take place outside – in a storm, on the moors, at the seashore.’ There is therefore the possibility that the category of ‘place’ find room in the study of the Bard’s writings and that such an approach afford a renewed reading of at least some of them in ways that make them more relevant to our times’concern with the permanence of life on the planet.

Nature as a reality outside the text, beyond the readers/spectators’ existence, independent from it, and its relation to culture at a time when England was slowly but surely rising, in the project of the Tudor monarchy, from a small marginalised nation, into a serious competitor for the riches of the New World. As the power struggle shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic sea the distribution of the land that in King Lear seemed no more than a fairy tale pretext for the sisters’bickering turns out to be a most realistic predicament. Nature non-reducible to a mere concept but in the case of the newly discovered continent, a formidable entity still largely unknown, largely unconquered, non-textualised yet. From this perspective, the key concept of ‘wilderness’ deserves closer inspection. The sea, which looms large in the formation of the English identity, as does the forest, the river and other features of the English Midlands that Shakespeare knew and loved so well may cease to operate merely as ‘symbols’ to recover their original literality. Thus the ecocritical project has given a new dimension to the Romantics’ attachment to nature, and to their specific reception of Shakespeare’s genius.

For a contemporary re-assessment of his plays in the light of ecocritical theory we submit this invitation.

Please send your paper title, 250-word abstract, along with your name, job title, affiliation and email to [->] by September 15, 2013.

Seminar 20: ‘The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together’: The Nature of Problem in Shakespearean Studies

«All’s Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene iii»

The idea of the problem play, which is borrowed by the Shakespearean critics from Henrik Ibsen and G.Bernard Shaw’s plays as the major representatives in the late 19th century, has also been applied to Shakespeare’s particular plays. The major aim of the 19th century problem plays is to deal with controversial social issues in a realistic and intellectual manner through the debates of individuals having conflicting ideas. Yet, though the modern term “problem play” is adapted to Shakespeare considering these specific facets, diverse and controversial critical perceptions have been developed on the meaning and use of the term in Shakespearean studies throughout the centuries. Edward Dowden calls these particular plays “dark comedies” while A.P. Rossiter regards the problem in generic terms and calls them “tragi-comedies” as they cannot be placed in a settled division of tragedy or comedy. On the other hand, F.S.Boas uses the term “problem play” for the first time. For Boas, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida and Hamlet are included in the category of problem plays; whereas, in William W. Lawrence’s definition, Antony and Cleopatra and Timon of Athens are also problematic. The ambiguity of the genre; the problems in content, structure and characters; the mysterious and dark nature of the plays are highlighted as the features of Shakespeare’s problem plays. Boas, Lawrence and Tillyard discuss the open-endedness of the plays which necessiates interpretation on the part of the audience, the analogies made with the political, social, religious and cultural problems of the Elizabethan Era and Jacobean period, and the questions raised on metaphysical issues of life and death, ethics and morals as the major features of Shakespeare’s problem plays. The use of language, which is tough and sophisticated rich in debates, discussions and satire, the psychological elements leading to realism and the conflict between appearance and reality are the other components used to identify a problem play. In this regard, a settlement has not been reached yet over which plays of Shakespeare are problem plays and the features that make a play problematic.

What will be discussed in this seminar is whether it is possible to find “problematic issues” that can be evaluated in terms of genre, mood, characterisation, and being open to interpretation in Shakespeare’s other plays categorised as “Romantic Comedies”, “Tragedies”, and “Histories”, or they are limited only in the “Problem Plays” and “so-called Problem Plays” defined by the critics mentioned above. It will be questioned whether the nature of the problem and its function change according to the content of the play regardless of its category. It will be discussed whether the social, political, cultural, moral and metaphysical questioning is seen in many of Shakespeare’s plays, and whether it turns out to be a problematic issue. In this sense, this seminar opens the perception that a number of Shakespeare’s plays embody the features of the problem play, defined and discussed, yet not agreed on by various critics so far, up for discussion. The seminar welcomes all the papers which negotiate Shakespeare’s works, their adaptations and productions in terms of the nature and appropriation of the characteristics of the problem play.

The major questions which will be dealt with in this seminar are as follows:

  1. Is it possible to restrict the term ‘problem play’ with only certain plays of Shakespeare such as All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida? Is it possible to talk about ‘a genuine problem play’ in Shakespearean studies?
  2. What are the key characteristics of the problem play, and how are they variously presented in Shakespeare’s works, their adaptations, and productions?
  3. Do any of Shakespeare’s plays fit entirely in either of comedy and tragedy in terms of generic categorisation? How is this interpreted in adaptations and productions?
  4. What is Shakespeare’s approach to the action and character in his plays? Does he provide satisfactory resolutions in his plays? If not, how and why?
  5. What is the function of categorisation of Shakespeare’s plays as “Romantic Comedies”, “Tragedies”, or “History Plays”? Can the features of these categories intermingle?
  6. What is the approach of the writers adapting Shakespeare’s plays to the problematic issues discussed within the term “problem play”?
  7. How do the theatre and film directors along with actors and actresses interpret, appropriate and perform the problematic issues present in the plays?

Submit your abstract (250 words) which includes name, email, affiliation, and title of the contribution.
Abstracts and biographical notes should be sent to ->] and [ by September 1st, 2013.

All the papers will be circulated among the participants, who will respond in detail to two papers during the seminar session. 

Panel 27: Speaking ‘but in the figures and comparisons of it’? Figurative speech made literal in Shakespeare’s drama / page and stage

Shakespeare’s drama has long been studied in the light of contemporary Puritan opposition to the stage. However, the thriving debates in post-Reformation England on the legitimacy of theatrical representation were part of broader interrogations regarding the status of the image and of signs. Such disputes, apparent in the wealth of controversial religious literature produced at the time, often led to different forms of confusion – perhaps even a collapse – between the figurative and the literal. According to radical Calvinist and symbolist conceptions of the image (derived from understandings of the Eucharist), there should be at once a certain degree of natural appropriateness between the figurative sign and its referent as well as an essential separateness between the two: the figure must, in the end, remain in a strictly symbolical relationship to the spiritual meaning it stands for. Yet the very fear, amongst radical Protestants, that the image might “usurp” its model – a fear made only stronger with the living, bodily image on stage and its heightened potential for illusion – alerts us to a much more ambiguous status of the figure in “Puritan” thought. So does the use, in radical controversial literature, of numerous “authorized” metaphors (such as, for instance, that of the “stumbling block”), used to such a point of bluntness that the distance between figurative and literal is often erased. Though theatres were built outside the boundaries of London under the pressure of Puritans and would later be destroyed by them, Shakespeare’s plays do not stand as one simple or straightforward response to such disavowal of the stage, nor does the playwright necessarily reprove those of his characters who may be reminiscent of radical Protestants’ attitude towards figuration. His theatre and poetics may in fact have been shaped in unexpected ways by this intellectual context in which the regime of the figurative was so highly ambiguous. In making the textual metaphor often literal, and then uncannily embodying it on stage, Shakespeare’s theatre reflects aesthetically upon the Puritan understanding (and misunderstanding) of signs in ways that are yet to be explored.

This panel welcomes “iconoclastic” approaches and papers on:

 Shakespeare’s particular treatment of images and metaphors in his text and on the stage, with specific emphasis on the passage from the textual to the literal regime.

 Shakespeare’s use of or relation to contemporary Puritan literature (both controversial and literary)

 Shakespeare’s use of ‘iconic’ materials such as The Bible and The Book of Common Prayer and their translatio on the stage (Daniel Swift and Steven Marx)

 Shakespeare’s “iconoclasm” and its various modalities and relation with specific literary devices (ekphrasis, prosopopoeia..)

 The relation between figure/body and the letter in Shakespeare’s drama

Please send your abstracts (title + about 250 words) with your name, email and affiliation before July, 1st, 2013

to Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Paris-Sorbonne) : [->]
Denis Lagae-Devoldère (Paris-Sorbonne) : [->]

Seminar 19: Shakespeare and Global Girlhood

This seminar explores the ways in which Shakespeare is employed to define girlhood within and across national and cultural boundaries. When, how, and why does Shakespeare intersect with questions of girlhood? How does Shakespeare reflect, validate, or undermine debates over girls and girlhood? How are representations of girls in relation to Shakespeare (in adaptation, popular citation, or pedagogical practices) employed in conversations on global citizenship and/or national identity? We are particularly interested in papers that identify Shakespearean influence in the study of girls and girlhood in advocacy, education, performance, artistic production (by, about, or marketed towards girls), cross-national politics, neoliberal subjectivity, citizenship, material culture, and health.

How does Shakespeare’s cultural capital influence the discourses of girlhood? The study of girls and girlhood has gained prominence in the past 20 years, marked by the rise of Girls’ Studies and the proliferation of interdisciplinary publications devoted to girlhood. In the United States, the 1994 publication of psychologist Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia was a flashpoint in the legitimization of girlhood studies, linking one of Shakespeare’s tragic girl characters to the definition of Western female adolescence as a period of crisis. Since then, the name “Ophelia” has become powerfully associated with organizations who aim to “save” girls from bullying, eating disorders, and mental health issues (among other threats). International efforts explicitly dedicated to empowering women and young girls—such as the United Nations’ Resolution to designate October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child—reflect the idea that addressing the needs of young women is a global concern. In light of this increased awareness of the status of girls, events such as the assassination attempt of Pakistani blogger Malala Yousafzai—just two days before the first International Day of the Girl Child—reveal the profound and fundamental oppression facing many girls and their advocates worldwide. These tensions inform feminist scholarship on contemporary perspectives on Shakespeare’s girls, as modern productions and adaptations are increasingly set within a global context. Despite the wealth of feminist scholarship on girls in Shakespeare, however, the extent to which Shakespeare’s cultural capital is used to articulate or authorize popular, political, and national definitions of girlhood has not received significant attention.

Proposals should be sent to ->] and [ by July 1st, 2013. Please include name, email, affiliation, brief bio, preliminary abstract (250 words) and title of your contribution.

Seminar 3: The Many Lives of William Shakespeare: Collaboration, Biography and Authorship

That the Elizabethan-Jacobean production of texts for the theatre was a highly collaborative enterprise has always been acknowledged and Shakespeare scholars have been forced to accept (and examine) the fact that even Shakespeare collaborated with other playwrights. But the fact that a Shakespeare existed and that he wrote plays has probably impaired the correct vision of that perfect collaborative machine that such an active commercial enterprise as English Renaissance theatre must have been. Indeed, although – as has been remarked – collaboration has many shades, the acknowledgement that a certain work has been written in collaboration inevitably means a diminution of authorship; consequently, scholars have been induced to scrutinize Shakespeare’s suspect texts in order to isolate other playwrights’ hands and restore to posterity the ‘genuine’ text created solely by his genius. But also other remedies to the partial waning of authorship have been developed in time. One of these remedies is biography. While the anti-Stratfordians have used the scarcity and irrelevancy of biographical information to argue for the unlikelihood of the idea that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a great writer, orthodox critics have used biography as a strategy to build up an identity structure by giving body to the idea of Person and of Author. In recent years, two different – but probably related – ‘confirmation’ strategies seem to be at work within the field of orthodox studies: in the first place, the publication of an unprecedented number of biographies (accompanied by the ‘discovery’ of portraits which help to settle the physical aspect of that personality structure) and, in the second place, the computer-assisted trend of attribution studies, which look for authentication in the alleged objectivity of the machines and therefore promise to irrefutably ‘purge’ the texts from all ‘alien’ intervention. At the same time (and in mute opposition towards the mainstream tendency of attribution studies represented by Brian Vickers), a new ‘disintegration’ theory developing within the field of orthodoxy is gaining ground. This, rather than considering the texts themselves and isolating the various hands which may have taken part in their composition, tends to re-read the whole process of production of texts, from plot-writing to performance and intends to show that the writing of texts for the theatre was in the final analysis a ‘play-patching’ by several hands (see, for instance, the reconsideration of the idea that, at the basis of many theatrical texts, there were ‘plots’ written by writers who were not the authors of the finished texts). This new disintegration theory, this ‘new heresy’, elaborated by a few critics (see, among others, Geoffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse. Collaboration, Authorshi’ and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama, 1997; H.A Hirschfeld, Joint Enterprises. Collaborative Drama and the Institutionalization of the English Renaissance Theater, 2004; Tiffany Stern, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England, 2009) tends not to disturb Shakespeare’s texts and illustrates instead a process which can be generalized and from which the figure of a ‘collective author’ is emerging. The idea is that of a ‘dispersal’ of authorship and author-ity, which tends to replace the doubling or tripling of identifiable and separable authors which is at the basis of attribution studies. Do such recent studies innovate providing new reflections and new documentary materials or are they a continuation, reformulation and reappraisal of the various ‘disintegration’ theories? However we evaluate this recent trend, we should acknowledge that the shift in perspective which it suggests may have consequences both on the way in which we regard and assess texts and on the way in which we describe the material organization of the Elizabethan-Jacobean theatrical enterprise; and it certainly – if prosecuted – may enliven the whole picture of authorship studies. Furthermore, this critical trend which, from within academic orthodoxy, tends to argue for a diminution of authorship and a re-evaluation of text-production as an intrinsically and inextricably collective enterprise, also coincides with the release of what can be considered the first mass-divulged anti-Stratfordian text, Roland Emmerich’s film Anonymous (2011), which revives the Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship with a marked pretence of historicity.

The seminar invites papers reflecting on the state of the art about the relevant ideas of authorship, collaboration and biography. Such reflections may include considerations about the recent flourishing of biographies and especially about the ways in which the new trends in biographical studies face the problem of building up a personality structure; a reconsideration of the ‘disintegration’ theories which have developed in time both in the field of unorthodox and of orthodox studies. Can attribution studies be considered as an authorized form of disintegration? In 1933, in his British Academy lecture entitled “The Disintegration of Shakespeare”, E.K. Chambers envisaged the risk of a devastation of the canon in the attribution trend which goes from Fleay and Robertson to Pollard and Dover Wilson. Can it be argued that attribution studies have in a way ‘devastated’ the canon or should we acknowledge that they have granted, in time, the more or less exact definition of authorial intentions? But is the idea of ‘final authorial intentions’ still valid in textual studies? And how and to what extent does the fact that collaboration was the normal practice in playwriting imply a diminution of authorship? Although, obviously, compliance to the cluster of issues suggested above is required, participants in the seminar are welcome to propose the discussion of other related topics and connections.

Please send your paper title, 250-word abstract, along with your name, job title, affiliation and email to [->] by September 1st, 2013.

Panel 15: Celebrating Shakespeare: Commemoration and Cultural Memory

For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, this panel will interpret, critique and theorize the practice of commemoration itself. We aim to provide a perspective on how Shakespeare has entered into cultural memory: as a symbol of national identities, of European culture, even of a global “cultural capital.” In three papers that examine different kinds of commemoration, we propose to explore its inevitably conflicting political and cultural investments in relation to their specific historical and cultural exigencies.

For example, that Shakespeare commemoration informs and is informed by an English identity might seem obvious, yet a tension between claims that Shakespeare is a “universal bard” who speaks to and for people of all nations and Shakespeare as a quintessentially English poet, has long existed. As a recent anthology demonstrates, to a great extent, an American identity came to depend on familiarity with Shakespeare (Kahn, Nathans, Godfrey 2010). Yet, it has also been argued, America’s Shakespearean commemorations tended to efface racial, class, and gender divisions.

Another recent collection of essays examining “the culturally constructed symbiosis between Shakespeare and England” reminds us that “England” or especially “Britain” are themselves constructions rather than realities of unified, cohesive national identities (Maley and Tudeau 2010: 9). Post-colonial scholarship has helped to pry apart those constructions, by revealing the intellectual and political processes by which Shakespeare became “a colonial battlefield,” a means of both establishing colonial power and, as empires collapsed, of critiquing it (Loomba and Orkin 1998, 2).

Respondents to this call for papers should send the following to the co-chairs, Clara Calvo (->]), Coppélia Kahn ([): name, affiliation, email address, 250-word abstract, and title, by June 30, 2013.

Panel 10: Shakespeare and Natural History

As a part of the Shakespeare 450 conference in Paris from April 21 to 27, 2014, this panel seeks to extend our understanding of how Shakespeare’s time was teeming with the new practice that would come to be known as natural history. Today, 450 years after Shakespeare’s birth, we are the beneficiaries of more than just the poetry of the era. Shakespeare’s recognition of and interaction with the community of natural historians demonstrates the importance he and others of his time placed on this new field. At the same time we honor the legacy of his literary engagement, so too can we consider the impact that his generation had on the imminent scientific revolution and the interaction among science, literature and society that would follow.

This fomenting discipline of natural history was part of the environment into which Shakespeare was born and began his work. Some of the authorities consulted by Shakespeare are natural histories, like the catalogs of plant and animal life that became popular in his century. Some plays, like The Tempest, draw heavily upon the discourse about monsters in his lifetime; others are more subtly flavored with botanical knowledge. Astrology – a practice that led individuals to observe the heavens and became more mathematical in Shakespeare’s day – figures in the texts, and the communities of correspondents and travelers in which natural historians played a part are in evidence as well. A special double issue of South Central Review attempted to rectify the “relative neglect” of the works of Shakespeare in the history of science, even at the same time it noticed a long tradition of considering this intersection of themes. What is more, as suggested by Carla Mazzio, today more than in the Renaissance, the arts and science are even more “interanimated” (11). This panel will be an opportunity to build on this study of the characters, settings, and allusions in Shakespeare’s work to help us understand the echoes, controversies, and premonitions of the natural historian in his work.

As documented by Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, a resulting change in discourse is seen in the classification of strange beings around the time of Shakespeare’s birth. Elizabeth Spiller has extended this phenomenon to her analysis of The Tempest, explaining the connection to the unique characters in the play. Before the modern period, curious beings were appreciated as rare events. Wonders in the medieval period were collected but not organized; they were, as Daston and Park characterize them, not museums but thesaurus. By the early sixteenth century, groups of naturalists engaged in a collective enterprise to distinguish the inhabitants of the natural world, which had recently become larger with the discovery of varieties of plants and animals in the new world. Thus, as described by Brian Ogilvie, an international community arose to ponder the legends, reports, and evidence of nature. The information that arose from a network of sailors, farmers, and merchants provided information to scholars, who then compared the reports with information from the ancients and published their own analyses. Starting shortly before Shakespeare’s birth in 1564, as described by Ogilvie, an international community arose to ponder the legends, reports, and evidence of the natural world as exact, historical facts.

This traffic in information about the natural world had a profound effect on the conduct of science. Ogilvie reports that by the 1540s a community of natural historians shared information by travel and correspondence. This community called for what Ogilvie calls a “long process of self-discipline” (140). The community, in conjunction with the proliferation of textual information, required a new habit from the natural historian in order to generate information that was acceptable to his or her peers. A natural historian would observe nature, certainly, but then compare this information from ancient sources as well as what his or her colleagues had observed. In order to more accurately observe and remember, they created garden technologies, collections of dried plants, and printed textbooks in order to augment what they saw with new information. By 1590, as noticed by Ogilvie, the descriptive techniques used by the naturalists in Shakespeare’s time depended upon “a system of differences” – having a goal of helping other naturalists find continuity in the natural world and distinguish types from each other, rather than recreating a plant or animal as unique objects for contemplation. In the plays, certainly, we see characters who display this ethic, which should contribute to our understanding of their character.

For this panel, I am seeking a multidisciplinary group of Shakespeare scholars, Renaissance literature experts, historians of science, and classicists to engage the theme of Shakespeare and science along broad lines. For instance:

1. What echoes or foreshadowings of the new natural history are found in Shakespeare’s work? What classical or contemporary scientific texts are particularly important for Shakespeare scholars? Which plays, poems, or even characters lead themselves to our greater understanding of the discipline?

2. How do Shakespeare’s gestures toward a natural history differ from the way the practice develops? In particular, what does the way he engaged with sources tell us about the practitioners of and assumptions about early modern science? To what extent is Shakespeare supporting this new discipline? Is it fair to call Shakespeare a natural historian? A popularizer of science?

3. In what way do the communities that Shakespeare depicts reflect the mobility exploited by natural historians or provide contrasting examples from earlier times? Can a better knowledge of particular fields, such Renaissance findings in botany/zoology, anatomy/medicine/pharmacology, astronomy/alchemy, or geology/geography/cartography, provide us with a richer understanding of Shakespeare’s work? Which key figures or texts from these disciplines should be as well known as Plutarch’s Lives or Holinshed’s Chronicles to Shakespeare scholars?

4. How can the evidence of natural history in Shakespeare help us better understand the interaction between science and literature in general? Does it offer us evidence of the social construction of scientific knowledge?

Proposals for papers that address these or related topics are welcome. Proposers are encouraged to review the relevant articles in the Winter and Spring 2009 issue of South Central Review, in addition to the bibliographic notes about the contributors in Carla Mazzio’s editorial introduction to the special edition, before submitting. Send name, email, affiliation, abstract (250 words) and title of your contribution with a brief CV to Chris Leslie by email ([->]) by August 1, 2013. Participants in this panel will precirculate draft papers with each other by April 7, 2014 to ensure a lively discussion at the conference.

This conference is organized by The Société française Shakespeare and will take place in a variety of venues in the center of Paris. For more information visit the Shakespeare Anniversary website:

Works Cited

  • Daston, Lorraine and Katharine Park. Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750. New York: Zone Books, 2001.
  • Mezzo, Carla. “Shakespeare and Science, c. 1600.” South Central Review 26.1&2 (Winter and Spring 2009): 1-23.
  • Ogilvie, Brian. The Science of Describing. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2006.
  • Spiller, Elizabeth. “Shakespeare and the Making of Early Modern Science: Resituating Prospero’s Art.” South Central Review 26.1&2 (Winter and Spring 2009): 24-41.

Panel 5: Born before and after Shakespeare

This two-session panel aims at showing how Shakespeare’s leading position in Elizabethan and Jacobean studies in France has to some extent fostered, delayed and/or shaped research on contemporary English authors, be they born slightly earlier or later than Shakespeare.

Why and how did Shakespeare, rather than any other, become such a central figure in the country’s literary history? In early modern England, Shakespeare was not always the national bard and admired author he came to become, as is exemplified by Robert Greene’s scathing description of the budding playwright as an “upstart crow beautified with our feathers”.

The canonization of the Shakespearean corpus was first the result of an editorial process, with the prefatory material to the 1623 folio bearing witness to Shakespeare’s key “position in the burgeoning family tree of English poetry”. Although adapted at times, as by poet laureate Dryden in the 17th century, or later bowdlerized in the early 19th century to fit public taste, the publication history of Shakespeare’s works in England confirms their canonical status, owing the playwright the posthumous title of England’s official national bard.

In France, despite making some biting comments about his plays, Voltaire was the first to mention Shakespeare’s genius. In doing so, he was initiating a long-standing tradition of panegyrics whereby French authors would pay homage to the dramatist whose popularity across the Channel was such that “la langue de Shakespeare” became a set phrase for the English language as a whole.

As far as academic publications and research are concerned, Shakespeare’s legacy has inspired some retrospective interpretations of the western canon with prominent critics such as Harold Bloom defining the anxiety of Shakespeare’s influence on later epigones, in sharp contrast to the 1980’s neo-historicist theories on self-fashioning. We would like to discuss renewed perspectives, different from both approaches, to reconsider (self-)canonization practices and the interrelations of some “self-crowned laureates”.

Shakespeare’s dominant position in literary history and early modern studies has also reverberated in France through the history of translations and stage performances of Elizabethan, Jacobean and Carolean authors. In the foreword to the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade edition of Théâtre élisabéthain (2009), Line Cottegnies writes that up until the last years, Shakespeare seemed to have partially eclipsed other dramatists and poets, thus deemed “Shakespeare’s contemporaries”. The two-volume edition, offering translations by a great number of leading early modernists, is therefore presented as a way of promoting lesser-known writers in print and on stage. Building on such recent ventures, we would like to delve into the bias some earlier Shakespeare-centred approach has entailed in our perception of early modern writers and into the possibility of looking at Shakespeare as his “contemporaries’ contemporary”. This will lead us to question such categories as “forerunner”, “successor” or “co-author” in literary history.

The contributions to the panel may deal with the libido influendi of early modern writers, whose strategies of self-canonization (as studied by Richard Helgerson of Raphael Falco) may be compared to Shakespeare’s own. Contributors could also offer views on whether source- and analogue-hunting for Shakespeare’s plays and poems has maybe either led to reappraising hypo- or hyper-texts or rather filtered their approach further through a Shakespearean prism. Finally, contributions on the relative importance of Shakespeare and/or his contemporaries in French departments of English studies, in translation or on stage, may also shed greater light on these issues, as would a comparison with current research trends in English departments around the world.

Proposals should be sent to ->] and [ by July 31st, 2013. Please include name, email, affiliation, abstract (250-300 words) and title of your contribution.

Panel 24: Shakespeare et les romans hispano-américains

Si l’œuvre de Shakespeare a donné lieu à une ample filiation littéraire, sa présence au sein de la littérature hispano-américaine en constitue certainement un prolongement méconnu et singulier, jusqu’ici peu examiné. C’est notamment le cas du roman du pouvoir tel qu’il se déploie dans la littérature hispano-américaine : quand bien même s’agit-il de théâtre, la fiction shakespearienne nourrit une profonde filiation, par exemple avec El otoño del patriarca de Gabriel García Márquez, El recurso del método d’Alejo Carpentier ou encore Yo el Supremo d’Augusto Roa Bastos, à travers de multiples citations, références et allusions.

Un tel intertexte, outre le fait qu’il rappelle l’immense postérité de Shakespeare, ne fait que renforcer la pertinence du recours au baroque dans l’appréhension du pouvoir mis en scène dans la littérature hispano-américaine : entre la vision du pouvoir déployée par Shakespeare et celles édifiées par les écrivains hispano-américains transparaît une communauté de pensée, indice peut-être d’un dépassement de la référentialité historique au profit d’une perception essentielle de la nature du pouvoir, et dans le portrait de la folie du pouvoir apparaît clairement le mirage des rois et des princes shakespeariens. Bien sûr, ni Shakespeare et l’époque baroque, ni les écrivains hispano-américains ne sont les seuls à avoir réfléchi à la question du pouvoir ; mais les problématiques qu’ils soulèvent leur semblent suffisamment chères pour que l’on en retrouve les motifs au-delà des siècles et des continents, en particulier à travers une énonciation à la première personne.

D’ailleurs, Philippe Forest rappelle la dette des romans modernes à l’égard de « la grande révélation shakespearienne d’un univers enveloppé de sommeil, tissu de songes, dans lequel passent de purs figurants, acteurs maladroits dupés par le mirage de leur rôle insignifiant[[Philippe Forest, Le Roman, le réel, et autres essais, Nantes, Éditions Cécile Defaut, 2007, p. 129.]] », et Roa Bastos écrit que « [en] el propio Francia […] se podrían encontrar ciertas semajanzas con el Prospero de La Tempestad, de Shakespeare, que El Supremo de la novela se jacta de conocer[[Augusto Roa Bastos, « Algunos núcleos generadores de un texto narrativo », L’idéologique dans le texte, Toulouse, Travaux de l’Université, 1978, p. 80. Traduction : « [dans] Francia lui-même […] pourrait-on rencontrer quelques similitudes avec le Prospero de La Tempête de Shakespeare, que le Suprême du roman se targue de connaître ».]] ». C’est ce parallèle riche de sens entre la littérature hispano-américaine et les œuvres dramatiques de Shakespeare qu’il importe de considérer plus attentivement, tant y est exploité le thème du pouvoir politique et de ses dérives, mais surtout de ses conséquences dans la conscience humaine. L’intérêt de ce rapprochement résiderait-il précisément dans cette peinture d’une conscience ?

Ainsi peut-on reconstituer dans la littérature hispano-américaine quelque chose comme cet « âge shakespearien où la souveraineté s’affrontait avec l’abomination dans un même personnage[[Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Tel, 1975, p. 331.]] ». Le théâtre du dramaturge élisabéthain contient une réflexion complète sur le pouvoir et ses conséquences morales, voire métaphysiques, disséminée dans l’ensemble de son œuvre. À l’instar des pièces de Shakespeare, la littérature hispano-américaine met en scène le pouvoir dans sa version la plus corrompue, suscitant ainsi une réflexion sur la conscience du pouvoir absolu. Ainsi forment-ils une communauté s’intéressant, s’il est possible de le formuler ainsi, à une ontologie du pouvoir. C’est précisément vers cette dimension réflexive que la présence de l’intertexte shakespearien dans la littérature hispano-américaine semble nous mener.

Les propositions de communication privilégieront le roman hispano-américain, sans pour autant exclure les autres genres, en particulier le genre dramatique. Les communications, d’une durée de 20 minutes, prendront place dans un panel au sein du Colloque Shakespeare 450, organisé par la Société Française de Shakespeare, du 21 au 27 avril 2014 à Paris. Pour plus d’informations : le site du colloque Shakespeare 450 ([->])

Les propositions de communication (250 mots), accompagnées d’une brève notice bio-bibliographique de l’auteur, sont à envoyer avant le 20 août 2013 à [->].