Seminar 9: Legal Perspectives on Shakespearean Theatre

The Renaissance scene frequently stages legal issues; in particular, the imagination of the period deeply engaged with trials, their implicit theatricality, their insistence on performance and the disputes between defendants and lawyers (the latter generally seen as villains), or judges and witnesses. Moreover legal issues such as problems concerning inheritances, contracts and their validity, marriages and property, relationships between children and fathers are frequently analysed within the representation of different voices of power (see for example Sokol and Sokol[[Sokol, M Sokol, Shakespeare, Law and Marriage, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003]], Gary Watt[[G. Watt, P. Raffield, Shakespeare and the Law, Hart, Oxford, 2008.]], John Drakakis[[ J. Drakakis, “Shakespeare against Genre”, Polemos, 1/2013.]], Daniela Carpi[[ D. Carpi, Shakespeare and the Law, Longo, Ravenna, 2003; D. Carpi, The Concept of Equity, Winter, Heidelberg, 2007; D. Carpi, Practising Equity, Addressing Law, Winter, Heidelberg, 2008.]], Jeanne Gaakeer, Richard Weisberg, Costas Douzinas).

Many critics have underlined the connection between theatre and law in the Renaissance cultural context (see for example Subha Mukherji[[ S. Mukherji, Law and Representation in Early Modern Drama, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006]], Paul Raffield, Ian Ward); actually, many English dramatists of the period studied law at the Inns of Court and could well reproduce legal debates on the scene, as well as make use of forensic models of narrative. The poetic language and the legal one both use imagination to reach a universal representation of human actions. Just like the playwright, who moves his audience with the logical and psychological power he possesses (for example manipulating the feelings of fear and pity of his spectators), so operates the lawyer, employing the same strategies during trials. Moreover, the shared final aim of both the tragic performance and legal procedure can be defined as the disposition toward making right judgements.[[ K. Eden, Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1986, p. 62.]]

In the context of a strong popular participation in the system of justice, the representation of uncertainty about legal issues represented a rich potential for causing strong reactions in the public (as is the case of resistance to tyranny).
Shakespeare was fascinated by law, which permeated Elizabethan everyday life. The general impression one derives from the analysis of many Shakespearean plays is that of a legal context in transformation and of a dynamically changing relation between law and society, law and the jurisdiction of Renaissance times. The legal situation does not appear to be a static but rather a mutable one, which is aware of and tries to cope with the new needs of the age. Shakespeare provides the kind of literary supplement that can better illustrate the legal context and the legal texts of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; his jurisprudential insight in specific matters (Ward, Carpi, Jeanne Gaakeer[[“The Bloody Book of Law”, some remarks on the interrelation of law, medicine, and the behavioral sciences in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice’, in: Simonsen, K.-M. and D. Tams (eds), Law and Literature, interdisciplinary methods of reading, DJØF Publishing Copenhagen, 2010, pp.21-32.]]) at the same time creates and develops within the legal imagination of the period[[ I. Ward, Shakespeare and the Legal Imagination, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999.]]. As Paul Raffield highlights, we will better understand the nature of the early modern constitution by means of Shakespeare’s description of it.[[ P. Raffield, Shakespeare’s Imaginary Constitution, Hart, Oxford, 2010.]]

In this context, the seminar aims at highlighting the many legal perspectives and debates emplotted in Shakespearean plays, underlining the juridical nature of the cases portrayed and the proposed solutions as well as the comments to the specific situations themselves. It aims at a critical consideration and comparison among the many critical texts that have been produced during the latest years on Shakespeare’s legal aspects favouring the proposal of new legal perspectives on selected topics. The proposals may address works of the Shakespearean canon as well as rereadings of it in interdisciplinary fields such as film studies, visual arts, performing arts.

Proposals should be sent to [->daniela.carpi@univr.it] by July 1st, 2013. Please include name, email, affiliation, abstract (250 words) and title of your contribution.

Seminar 6: Global Shakespeare as Methodology

Global Shakespeare as a cultural phenomenon and a field of study has gained much of its vitality from the sheer multiplicity of genres, cultures, and artistic and academic investments in performances as multilingual affairs. Global Shakespeare festivals, performances, and courses are proliferating, because they seem to answer competing structural demands on artists and scholars to be more transnational in outlook while sustaining traditional values. Recent studies that treat “global Shakespeare” not as news-worthy curiosities but as methodology have made meaningful contributions to Shakespeare studies. 

This seminar explores, among other topics, the potential of global Shakespeare as methodology. Papers may address emerging methodological issues by examining well-known instances such as the internationalism of Michael Almereyda’s film Hamlet or traveling stage works such as Grupo Galpão’s Romeu e Julieta. What does it entail to practice, teach, and study global Shakespeare in 2014? What is the value of local knowledge? How do aesthetics and international politics shape the conflicting myths of Shakespeare as a global author and national poet? What values and ideas does global Shakespeare sustain or undermine? 

Annotated, English-subtitled videos of works discussed in the seminar may be available on the open-access Global Shakespeares digital performance archive: ->http://globalshakespeares.org/]. Seminar contributors and participants in the Shakespeare 450 conference can take advantage of the digital archive’s curatorial functions to facilitate further discussion. Select works will also be featured in online learning modules ([). 

Deadline: August 15, 2013

Submit your name, job title, affiliation, email, paper title, and a 250-word abstract to Alexander Huang ([->acyhuang05@gmail.com]) by August 15, 2013

Seminar 5: Shakespeare and the Visual Arts

Critical investigation into the rubric of “Shakespeare and the visual arts” has generally focused on the influence exerted by the works of Shakespeare on a number of artists, painters, and sculptors in the course of the centuries. Relying on the aesthetics of intertextuality and profiting from the more recent concepts of cultural mobility and permeability between cultures in the early modern period, this seminar will study instead the dramatic use and function of Renaissance material arts and artists in Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Among the great variety of possible topics, participants in the “Shakespeare and the visual arts” Seminar may like to consider:

  • the impact of optics and pictorial perspective;
  • anamorphosis and trompe l’oeil effects on the whole range of visual representation;  
  • the rhetoric of “verbal painting” in dramatic discourse;
  • the actual citation and intertextuality of classical and Renaissance artists;
  • the legacy of iconographic topoi;
  • the humanistic debate or Paragone of the Sister Arts;
  • the use of emblems and emblematic language;
  • explicit and implicit ekphrasis and ekphrastic passages in the plays
  • ekphrastic intertextuality, etc.

Registered participants are invited to submit by 10th August 2013 to the address below a one-page abstract of their proposed article on any aspect of the relationship between the age of Shakespeare and Renaissance arts, including the theoretical approach of the arts in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Every abstract (approx. 250 words) should include the participant’s name, email, affiliation, and title of the proposed contribution.

Prof. Michele Marrapodi
FacoltĂ  di Lettere e Filosofia
Dipartimento di Scienze Umanistiche
Viale delle Scienze
90128 Palermo, Italy.
Email: [->michele.marrapodi@unipa.it]

Seminar 1: Shakespeare on Screen: The Romances

This seminar invites papers on screen adaptations, screen appropriations or screen quotations of Shakespeare’s romances: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.

A variety of approaches will be welcomed. The papers may examine, among other aspects:

  • how the play is (textually, aesthetically, ideologically, etc.) transformed when directed for the screen;
  • what each version reveals about the (sometimes postcolonial) culture in which it is set;
  • how Shakespeare’s playscript (or plot) interacts with national ideologies and representations;
  • how the screen versions have been influenced and shaped by previous theatre productions;
  • how the gender and racial issues have been addressed;
  • how the magical aspects of the plays interrelate with the filmic medium;
  • how the issues of time and space are tackled by film directors;
  • how the Romances have influenced non-Shakespearean filmic works or how they have been quoted/appropriated/challenged in various films.

Every proposal should include: name, email, affiliation, abstract (250 words) and title of the contribution.
The seminar will welcome up to 15 contributors.
Seminar papers should be no longer than 5,000 words in length.
Abstracts and biographical notes should be sent to ->nvienneguerrin@orange.fr] and [ by August 20th, 2013.

All the papers will be circulated among the participants, who will respond in detail to two papers before the seminar session.
Selected papers will be published in the “Shakespeare on Screen” collection, edited by Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin (Publications des UniversitĂ©s de Rouen et du Havre).