Seminar 7: ‘In this distracted globe’?: Cognitive Shakespeare

The two sentinels protecting the castle from unfamiliar shapes in Hamlet, the cognitive mind-game revolving around the ‘ocular proof’ in Othello, or the mechanisms of the dream in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare’s plays function in different way as cognitive laboratories that provide insight into “this distracted globe” by displaying the workings of the mind. Influenced by early modern concepts of memory, the spirits of body and mind, and theories on (visual) perception, Shakespeare’s plays approach the topic of ‘cognition’ from various angles.

While the last decade has seen an increasing number of publications dealing with cognition in Shakespeare (including Mary Thomas Crane’s seminal Shakespeare’s Brain (2000), Patrick Colm Hogan’s and Lalita Pandit’s special issue of College Literature on the topic of “Cognitive Shakespeare in the Age of Neuroscience” (2006) and Marcus Nordlund’s Shakespeare and the Nature of Love (2007)), the topic remains largely under-researched to date. Taking these and further studies on the topic as starting point, we would like to discuss and evaluate new approaches to ‘cognitive Shakespeare’ in this seminar. If Shakespeare’s plays, in Keith Oatley’s words, are “simulations that run on minds,” what can they tell us about these minds? In what way are Shakespeare’s plays informative about the cognitive processes that form the basis of our understanding and appreciating them? What does this do to the distinction between body and mind, itself a pervasive topic in Shakespeare’s plays? Can naturalist approaches explain the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s drama? Are certain themes and motifs anthropological constants that Shakespeare tapped into with particular insight and sensitivity? Can Shakespeare’s plays help us rethink the processes of aesthetic production and reception at large? Can they be helpful in illuminating the interplay of and division between form and content? To what extent did they serve as medium to disseminate knowledge about cognition? Can we speak of a ‘theatre of the mind’ and how does Shakespeare’s cognitive theatre connect to other drama of the time? And last but not least, how we implement these new approaches of cognitive studies into teaching Shakespeare to students?

Papers could address, but are not restricted to, one or more of the following topics: embodied cognition in Shakespeare; beauty, ugliness, and the brain; brains and bodies; conceptual metaphors; the passions of the mind and their cognitive scope; the Globe’s / ‘globe’s’ cognitive design or architecture; mind-games or -tricks; cognition and the question of genre; movement, stasis, and cognition; hallucinations and dreams; memory and cognition; audience response; notions of nature vs. nurture; visual perception, performance, and cognition; teaching ‘cognitive Shakespeare’……

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 insure maximum time for dialogue amongst participants. During the seminar, we will focus on discussing individual approaches as well as explore the impact of this new field of research on teaching Shakespeare both in the classroom and at university.

Please send a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper by 1 July 2013 to both of the organizers of this panel (->] and [), stating your name, email address and affiliation.

Panel 4: Secular Shakespeares

The last decade has seen a return to religion in early modern studies. A previous generation of scholarship had sublimated questions of theology and religious identification in favor of the cultural studies “holy trinity” of race, class, and gender. However New Historicist criticism began to embrace and understand Renaissance texts through the lens of Reformation theological disputation and the religious environment in which individual texts were created. Shakespeare, the most towering figure of English Renaissance writing is no exception. As a case in point Stephen Greenblatt’s popular biography of the author Will in the World spends ample time investigating the evidence for possible recusant sensibilities in that most English of writers. This panel invites papers that return to a more secular understanding of Shakespeare. How much of Shakespeare’s continued popularity is precisely because he largely avoids antiquated doctrinal concerns that occupied other playwrights? In what ways does Shakespeare both negotiate and negate the perilous dichotomy between Catholic and Protestant? How is the metaphysic engaged in his drama and verse materialistic, Epicurean, or even atheistic? Does Shakespeare mock religion, exult it, or largely ignore it? What can critics make of his avoidance of writing a biblical play while still mining English translations of scripture for rhetorical and thematic tropes? Is there any way in which it is fair to say that Shakespeare is the first of the moderns, the primogeniture of the secular human? The panel would also be considered in proposals that consider the opposite possibility, that even with a seeming lack of interest in theological disputation, how does Shakespeare inevitably seem to embrace particular theological positions? And perhaps more widely, how do we conceptualize secularism as a construct, category, and discourse in the early modern period? Is it possible to speak of any text as “secular,” or do even the most profane of works reflect and suggest some sort of theological commitment? Is secularism even possible in representation, literature, or culture? And how does Shakespeare enter into these particular questions? Special attention will be paid to abstracts which look at productions or interpretations of Shakespeare in the modern world, and the ways in which religion is side-stepped or embraced.

Please send 300-400 word abstracts by August 1st 2013 to Ed Simon of Lehigh University at [->]. This panel is planned for Shakespeare 450 commemorating the 450th anniversary of the author’s birth by the Société française Shakespeare and to be held in Paris 21-27 April 2014.

Panel 28: Shakespearean festivals and anniversaries in Cold War Europe 1947-1988

When the Deutsche Shakespeare Gesellschaft celebrated its ninetieth anniversary in 1954, its declared theme was ‘the co-operation of all peoples in the great work of humanity’ – a statement that may suggest it was concerned less with the commemoration of a Shakespearean past than with the reconstruction of the post-war future. The aspiration proved elusive: within ten years, the Berlin Wall had been built, and both Germany and Europe were split in two. Echoing this political division, the Gesellschaft – belying the idealised unity of its name – was also split: two separate societies producing two separate yearbooks. In the Shakespeare anniversary year 1964, when the original Gesellschaft also celebrated its centenary, the West and East sections convened simultaneously in Bochum and Weimar. If Germany had become the stage on which the crisis of the Cold War was playing itself out, it was Shakespeare, once again, who provided the script.

Given his centrality to the formation of national identities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, how exactly do we understand Shakespeare’s role in the territorial and cultural reconfigurations of Cold War Europe? Specifically, how do we understand the role in these reconfigurations of the Shakespeare festival or anniversary? To what extent did the commemoration, celebration or invocation of Shakespeare in such events engage common points of cultural reference – or articulate conflicting positions of political interest?  Should we conceive the Shakespeare festival or anniversary as a negotiation of international relations rather than a site of cultural memory – or both? How might such events inform our understanding of the political, economic, even military, dynamics of the new global order, such as the occupation and partition of Germany, or the cultural reconstruction associated with the Marshall Plan and the ‘economic miracles’ of post-war Europe?  What role have they played in the process of European integration? Does the Shakespeare festival or anniversary challenge prevailing (and largely Amerocentric) critical approaches to Cold War culture – like Alan Nadel’s influential concept of containment culture? How might we link them to the rise of new theoretical and philosophical approaches to the cultural dynamics of post-war European society and history, such as the Habermasian public sphere, or the Deleuzean model of de- and re-territorialization? 

This panel will seek to explore the political and cultural function of the Shakespeare festival and anniversary in the European Cold War, as well as the impact of Cold War politics on the productions, criticism and scholarship associated with them. We therefore invite contributions from a wide range of European positions and perspectives. Whilst we welcome innovative accounts of central events, such as 1964, we would also be interested in papers that discuss lesser known, even hitherto undocumented events – particularly presentations that draw on archival research to extend the scholarly record of this cultural phenomenon. Our aim is to co-ordinate a historically and theoretically nuanced account of Shakespearean celebration across the divided world of Cold War Europe; but also thereby to contribute to a broader discussion of Shakespeare’s possible role in its re – or dis? – integrated future.

Prospective panellists are asked to submit proposals of maximum 500 words for 20-minute papers to Erica Sheen ->] and Isabel Karremann [, to be received by July 1 2013. We are seeking to compile an edited collection of essays from these papers, so will be particularly pleased to hear from colleagues who would like to develop their work for publication after the conference. We will let you know by August 1 2013 if we are able to accept your paper.

Panel 16: “C’est shakespearien!”: fortune critique d’un topos en France de 1820 à nos jours

L’expression “C’est shakespearien” est souvent utilisée dans le langage courant (tout comme les adjectifs proustien ou kafkaïen). Mais que désigne-t-elle exactement? Cet atelier vise à plonger dans l’histoire de ce topos, qui remonte en effet à une archéologie de la réception de Shakespeare par la France: dans le XVIIIe siècle, d’abord, à travers la première réception que Voltaire façonne du premier contact entre la culture française et Shakespeare, mais surtout au XIXe siècle, où une véritable passion pour Shakespeare se développe en France, menant à des réflexions parfois très abouties sur les différences culturelles nationales (Stendhal, Hugo, Taine…). Cet atelier vise à confronter des traductions, des biographies, des mises en scènes, des revues ou articles de presse (y compris purement événementiels), tout comme des essais (comme le célèbre Racine et Shakespeare de Stendhal, 1823) –, et toute autre expression susceptible de mesurer la trace laissée par cette rencontre dans les sensibilités et les modes d’expression en littérature, en musique, en peinture, voire dans la bande dessinée… On s’interrogera sur la perception française de Shakespeare depuis 1820, et sur la manière dont les contrastes esthétiques et culturels sont perçus et exprimés. Si la collocation “c’est shakespearien” reflète la marque profonde laissée par Shakespeare et son œuvre sur l’imaginaire collectif français, il ne sera pas exclu de s’interroger sur les profonds contresens, les incompréhensions, les points aveugles que suscite l’œuvre de l’auteur de la Renaissance dans la culture et la société françaises du XIXe au XXIe siècle.

Merci d’envoyer votre proposition de communication (durée de la communication: 20 minutes), avec une courte notice bio-bibliographique à Line Cottegnies (->]) et Gisèle Venet ([) le 1er septembre 2013 au plus tard. Les participants à l’atelier seront informés dès le 1er octobre).

Panel 16: “It’s Shakespearian!”: The critical fortune of a commonplace in France from 1820 to the present

The phrase “It’s Shakespearean” is often used in everyday conversation (such as adjectives like Proustian or Kafkaian). But what does it mean exactly? This panel / workshop means to explore the history of this topos, which finds its roots in an archeology of the reception of Shakespeare in France: in the XVIIIth century first, through the first reception of Shakespeare as was shaped by Voltaire, and above all in the XIXth century, which saw a real passion for Shakespeare in France, a passion leading to some important essays on the differences between national cultural traditions (Stendhal, Hugo, Taine…). This workshop/panel hopes to bring together some translations, biographies, studies of productions, journals or press articles (including purely factual ones), and essays – such as Stendhal’s Racine and Shakespeare (1823) –, and any other kind of documents that can allow us to measure the traces left by the meeting between different national sensibilities and modes of expression in literature, music, painting…. Or even in cartoons… The workshop will focus on the French perception of Shakespeare from 1820 onwards, and on how the cultural and aesthetic differences were perceived and expressed. It seems clear that the cliché “It’s Shakespearian” reveals the deep mark imprinted by Shakespeare and his works on the French collective imagination, but it might be relevant to question the degree of misunderstanding and incomprehension, or even blindness, on which the reception of this Renaissance author in France has been based from the XIXth to the XXIth centuries.

Proposals of about 250 words for a twenty-minute paper and a brief biographical blurb should be sent to Line Cottegnies (->]) and Gisèle Venet ([) by 1st September 2013. Presenters will be notified by 1 October.

Seminar 10: Shakespeare and Slavic / East and Central European Countries

‘The Slavs’ great capacity for hero worship, particularly for the man of intellect, has given Shakespeare as high a place in their estimation as we would give a military hero returning from a victory’ (Cyril Bryner, 1941).

‘Shakespeare. Change his name into a mountain, and it will surpass the Himalayas…Before his appearance the world was incomplete’ (Sándor Petőfi, 1847[[Quoted in Zdeněk Stříbrný, Shakespeare in Eastern Europe.]]).

This seminar will study Shakespeare’s adoption and adaptation within the countries of Eastern and East-Central Europe, including those comprising the former USSR. Angles such as the historic, cultural, political, theatrical, and translation studies will be considered.

Shakespeare’s journey in Central and Eastern Europe goes as far back as tours of English comedians during his lifetime and soon after his death to the court of Zygmunt III of Poland. The 18th century saw the first attempts at appropriating and adapting his work in the Russian language, with Sumarokov’s first quasi-translation of Hamlet. The age of National movements in European cultural and political life continued well into the 19th century, as did admiration for Shakespeare. In Russia of the Romantic era, Shakespeare and Byron were two major sources of inspiration for poets, artists and composers. Tchaikovsky dreamt of composing an opera based on Hamlet, but he found the Danish Prince’s irony untranslatable into music. However, he did not shrink from composing incidental music and symphonic pieces based on Shakespeare’s plays. Apart from productions, translations, and adaptations, studies and analysis of Shakespeare’s plays began to appear. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the arrival of Socialist doctrines brought more overtly political shades into Shakespeare productions, along with experimental interpretations especially during the avant-garde 20s and early 30s. Wartime Shakespeare took various shapes and colours to fit the purposes and morale of the various nations – for example, certain more introspective plays such as Hamlet were absent from most Soviet stages. The Thaw saw two great cinema adaptations of Shakespeare by Grigori Kozintsev, as well as many key Shakespeare studies, such as Jan Kott’s, Shakespeare our contemporary (1964).

Discussion topics for the seminar include but are not limited to:

  • History of Shakespeare translations into Slavic/ Central and Eastern European languages
  • Shakespeare stage productions in the (former) Eastern Bloc
  • Shakespeare and the Soviet Union
  • Shakespeare and Russian/Soviet music
  • Shakespeare and cinema in the (former) Eastern Bloc
  • Shakespeare studies in Slavic/ Central and Eastern European countries

Please submit abstracts (200-300 words) and brief biography (c.150 words) including your affiliation by 1 August 2013 to the seminar convenors: Michelle Assay (->]) and Professor David Fanning ([).

Panel 20: Shakespeare en mouvement : Approches en vue de chorégraphier les oeuvres de William Shakespeare

DATE LIMITE le 8 juin 2013

La Société française de Shakespeare organise une semaine de conférences à Paris du 21 au 27 avril 2014, qui coïncidera avec le 450ème anniversaire de la naissance de Shakespeare. La conférence est à la recherche d’interventions pour un panel traitant des approches visant à chorégraphier des productions dansées basées sur les textes de Shakespeare (directement ou indirectement).

Les intervenants disposerant de 20 minutes pour présenter leurs essais, suivies d’une brève discussion avec modérateur. Le panel Shakespeare en mouvement vise à examiner les diverses façons dont les chorégraphes historiques ou contemporains ont approché le travail avec les textes de Shakespeare lors de représentations dansées.

Les questions à aborder incluent : Comment les chorégraphies ont-ils transposés des textes célébrés pour leur usage de la poésie écrite et du langage oral dans un dialogue purement corporel au travers de la danse et de la musique? Comment la langue des textes de Shakespeare a-t-elle influencé le rythme et les nuance du mouvement dansé et de la musique ? Comment les représentations dansées shakespeariennes ont-elles évolué lors des changements en technique de danse (incorporation de nouveaux styles de danses, usage de nouveaux média et interdisciplinarité des outils de représentations au sein des productions de danse contemporaines, etc.) ? En quoi l’art de la danse contribue-t-il à l’héritage de Shakespeare ? Quelle impact l’oeuvre du barde a-t-elle eu sur l’histoire de la danse, d’hier ou d’aujourd’hui ?

Les intervenants intéressés à l’idée de traiter de ces questions au sein d’un ou de plusieurs des spectacles suivants sont particulièrement encouragés : Roméo et Juliette de Sasha Waltz, Le Songe d’une nuit d’été de George Balanchine, La Princesse de Milan de Karine Saporta (basée sur La Tempête), La Mégère apprivoisée de Cranko, et/ou l’héritage shakespearien de Kenneth McMillan au Royal Ballet.

Autres sujets envisageables : Les premières représentations de Shakespeare en ballet classique, la danse moderne/contemporaine et Shakespeare, de même que les approches chorégraphiques expérimentales dans le travail avec les textes de Shakespeare.

Les propositions de chercheurs en danse, de même que celle de la part de musicologues, sont tout spécialement souhaitées.

Merci de bien vouloir transmettre votre nom, institution de rattachement, proposition de 500 mots (avec titre) et un C.V. à : 
Marisa C. Hayes, modératrice du panel : [->]

Panel 20: Moving Shakespeare: Approaches in Choreographing Shakespeare

DEADLINE June 8, 2013

The panel Moving Shakespeare seeks to examine the various ways in which historic and living choreographers have approached working with Shakespeare’s texts in dance performance. Questions to be be considered include: How have choreographers transposed texts celebrated for their use of poetic written and oral language into a purely corporeal dialogue through dance and music? How has the language of Shakespeare’s texts influenced the rhythm and nuances of dance movement and music? How have Shakespearian dance performances evolved with shifts in dance practices (incorporation of new dance styles, use of new media and interdisciplinary performance tools in contemporary dance productions, etc.)? What does the art of dance contribute to Shakespeare’s legacy? What impact has the bard’s oeuvre had on the history of dance, past and present?

Panelists interested in addressing these questions within the context of one or more of the following performances are especially encouraged: Sasha Waltz’s Romeo and Juliet, George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Karine Saporta’s La Princesse de Milan (based on The Tempest), Cranko’s The Tamkng of the Shrew, and Kenneth McMillan’s Shakespearian legacy at the Royal Ballet. Additional topics of interest include: early classical ballet representations of Shakespeare, modern dance and Shakespeare, as well as experimental choreographic approaches to working with Shakespeare’s texts.

Panelists will be given 20 minutes to present their papers followed by a brief moderated discussion. The panel will be part of La Société française Shakespeare’s week-long conference in Paris. Conference dates are April 21-27, 2014. More practical information on the conference can be found online: [-> ]

Submissions from dance and theatre historians, as well as musicologists, are particularly welcome.

Please send your name, institutional affiliation, proposal of 500 words (with title) and a C.V. to: panel moderator Marisa C. Hayes [->]

Panel 18: ‘Seeing As’: Shakespeare and Denotement

Iago narrates to Cassio how Othello has ‘devoted and given up himself to the contemplation, mark, and denotement of [Desdemona’s] parts and graces’ (2.3.287-9 emphasis added), and the word, which is a Shakespearean neologism, crops up again in the next act (at least in the Q1 [1622] version) : ‘Such things … in a man that’s just, / They’re close denotements, working from the heart, /That passion cannot rule (3.3.123-5). The word does not occur elsewhere in the canon, and Literature Online does not find it again until the nineteenth century in texts that generally had some connection with Shakespearean ones. In our context, therefore, it is almost a nonce word, but the Q1 text suggests that it may have come to the surface of Shakespeare’s mind twice, perhaps impelled upwards by remembering his composition of Much Ado about Nothing (‘noting’, of course). In the second instance the word word may mean simply ‘indications’, but in the first it obviously designates a process,

This use of the word suggests that Shakespeare was well aware that seeing offered not simple ocular proof, but was part of ‘seeing as’, a longer process of noticing, reading, and interpreting.

In the final Chorus of Henry V the spectators are thus enjoined:

… now behold,
In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens.
The Mayor and all his brethren, in best sort,
Like to the senators of th’antique Rome
With the plebeians swarming at their heels,
Go forth and fetch their conqu’ring Caesar in …

(5.Chorus, 23-8; emphasis added)

What is interesting here is that Shakespeare, similarly, does not request his auditors simply to ‘see’ the Londoners in their mind’s eye, but to see them ‘as’ something else, in this case a Roman triumph. The passage reminds of us two things: first of the degree of intellection that takes place in our mental ‘working-houses’ (workshops) as what is apprehended is converted into something to be comprehended and, second, of the opacity of language, the way it is used not just to paint a picture but to tell or explain. Denotements in Othello may derive from what the Renaissance called ‘rumours’ or ‘affects’ (inclinations or dispositions); here the embedded simile (‘Like to the senators …’) reminds us of the diegetic role of language and cultural associations in perception.

In an early work, Titus Andronicus, Lavinia’s uncle Marcus offers an extended reading of his niece’s maimed body first as a tree, then as an overflowing fountain. It is as though the young Shakespeare was determined to resist any call of realism, based upon direct observation. (The speech may work in a way similar to Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe where a ‘classical’ nude sits between some bourgeois gentlemen.)

Twenty years ago Seamus Heaney, with insouciant brilliance, summed up the inventive and creative facility of the poetic and workaday imagination in the two-word title of a collection of verse, Seeing Things. What is ‘real’ is what is invented.

When it comes to the poetics of theatre we realise that action is eloquence (Coriolanus, 3.2.76) and that the semiotics or languages of performance are welded on to processes of the rendering of written texts: they to do not involve simply ‘seeing’. Words, concepts, ekphrases, theatrical images, and visual signs are, in the working-house of spectators’ thoughts, dissolved, diffused, and recombined in a complex process of re-creation.

In the light of the above, I invite abstracts of papers for this panel that deal with topics such as:

  • appropriate aspects of Shakespearean rhetoric or the way these notions might help us with broader considerations of Shakespeare as thinker
  • metadramatic observations (implied or explicit) about seeing and perception in the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. (Is there something distinctive about the way Shakespeare transmutes experience into words or implied gestures – or vice versa?)
  • comparisons between earlier and later examples of the ways Shakespearian characters ‘denoted’ what they observed on stage
  • ways in which particular and appropriate performances of Renaissance texts have been followed and experienced. Screen versions might be considered, provided that papers acknowledge differences between the poetics of stage and screen.

There will be a 10-paper limit, and you should send your name, email, affiliation, abstract (250 words) and title of your contribution to me ([->]) by 31 July 2013. (I shall be away through most of August and need to send a final list of participants to the conference organizers by the end of that month).

Panel 11: “The Undiscovered Country – the Future” – Shakespeare in Science Fiction

Anxieties that a decline of print culture in favour of digitalized texts might lead to a loss of knowledge of the classics will eventually turn out to be unfounded if the visions of science fiction are to be believed. Allusions to and themes from the Bard’s works abound in contemporary science fiction. To name but a few examples: In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, Shakespeare is still very much alive in the 23rd century and beyond, quoted by Klingon and Federation starship captains alike, and even re-enacted by the android Data on the Enterprise-D’s holodeck. In the British cult science fiction series Doctor Who, the fourth incarnation of the protagonist claims he helped transcribe the original manuscript of Hamlet. In Battlestar Galactica, ambitious Gaius Baltar turns into an uncanny version of Macbeth, with Caprica Six as his Lady Macbeth manipulating him to unspeakable crimes.

Shakespeare appears to particularly lend itself to the genre of science fiction to provide a cultural constant in a mechanized world, to serve as a foil for the hamartia of plots set in the distant future, to illuminate a mysterious character.

In this panel, speakers will address how incarnations of Shakespearean heroes and plays toy with the postmodern idea of the echo chamber, and with Baudrillard’s concept of hyperrealism and the universal simulation in which originals no longer exist.[[ Jean Baudrillard, L’échange symbolique et la mort. Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines (Paris: Gallimard, 1976) and Simulacres et simulation (Paris: Galilée, 1981); 111 ff.]] Furthermore, this panel encourages papers to explore how Shakespeare in alien costume challenges the self-fashioning[[ In New Historicism, self-fashioning denotes the idea that members of a culture fashion their identities and their historical past in accordance with the accepted norms and codes of behaviour of that society: “We choose our past in the same way that we choose our future. The historical past, therefore, is, like our various personal pasts, at best a myth, justifying our gamble on a specific future, and at worst a lie, a retrospective rationalization of what we have in fact become through our choices”. Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1985); 39.]] of one civilization as the most advanced and therefore predominant culture, how it raises “questions about the notion of familiarity and alien-ness and the processes of cultural re-appropriation as enacted in and through language […], emerging at the intersections between translation theory and postcolonial studies”.[[ Karolina Kazimierczak, “Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: The Klingon Hamlet and the Spaces of Translation”. Studies in Popular Culture 32.2, Spring 2010; 35-55; 36.]]

Abstracts (250 words) for 15-20 minute papers may be submitted to
Dr Simone Broders (English Studies, Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg), simone.broders “at” or simone.broders “at”

The submission deadline is 31 July 2013.