Hello, and welcome to The Scrivener! This is Emily with the latest news in Shakespeare scholarship. There are several new calls for papers, manuscripts and conferences, so let’s get to it.
Hamlet the First
The 1603 edition of Hamlet, the first surviving text of Shakespeare’s most famous play, was, for most of the twentieth century, dismissed as a ‘bad quarto’, the most conspicuous inhabitant of the ghetto of ‘memorial reconstruction’. This theory was widely proclaimed as a ‘fact’, which had been proven by the scientific methods of the New Bibliography. It was also widely accepted as a ‘fact’ that references to a play called ‘Hamlet’ in 1589, 1594, and 1596 referred to an earlier, lost tragedy, probably written by Thomas Kyd.
These ‘facts’ began to unravel in the 1990s when the whole theory of memorial reconstruction was challenged by Laurie Maguire, Paul Werstine, and others. In 2014, two monographs on the 1603 edition (the ‘first quarto’, or ‘Q1’) were published, almost simultaneously: Young Shakespeare’s Young Hamlet: Print, Piracy, and Performance (by Terri Bourus) and Hamlet After Q1: An Uncanny History of the Shakespeare Text (by Zachary Lesser). In different ways, both books challenged the orthodox editorial and critical dismissal of Q1. In 2015, the third edition of the Norton Shakespeare included, in addition to the canonical Hamlet (based on the Second Quarto, conflated with additions from the Folio), an edited text of the 1603 edition. In February 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a 5200-word article by Ron Rosenbaum on the controversy surrounding Shakespeare’s ‘Badass Quarto’ (the title of a production of Q1 in Washington D.C.).
In 2017 Critical Survey will publish a special issue on ‘The First Hamlet’, guest-edited by Terri Bourus. We invite papers of 4000-7000 words, addressing issues surrounding the first quarto, or the ‘lost Hamlet’, or both, from a variety of perspectives: critical, theatrical, historical, pedagogical, and bibliographical. We are interested in the history of criticism, the history of the book, and the history of performance, in data-mining and statistical analysis, in the experiments of directors and actors, the experience of teachers, the analysis of verse and prose. Whatever the subject, essays should be clear, concise, and accessible.
For more information, including style guideline, please visit Critical Survey’s website here.
SFS: Shakespeare and Fear
In an era fraught with economic violence, environmental anxiety, forced migrations, war and terrorism, it seems particularly relevant to examine the ways in which the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage made use of fear and to consider how these fears continue to reverberate in the present. Such connections are clearly envisaged by Robert Appelbaum, who applies the word “terrorism” to the violence that shook Early Modern Europe, including the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre and countless plots and popular uprisings (1). The re-appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays in the context of the crises we are experiencing is a case in point. How has Shakespeare been used to fend off fear, or deconstruct the workings of terror, dictatorship or armed intimidation — from Ernst Lubitsch’s To be or not to be to Shakespeare productions recently performed in Syria?
Fear is present in one form or another in almost all of the dramatic works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. From the ridiculous apprehension of being made a cuckold to the dread felt by Macbeth when confronted to Banquo’s ghost, from the mechanicals’ worry that the “lion” might frighten the ladies to the terror on which Richard III’s tyranny relies, all degrees of fear are to be found in Shakespeare, as well as in Marlowe, Middleton or Webster. Be it in tragedies attempting to instil sacred terror or in comedies making fun of the staging of terrifying events, in historical plays critiquing the Machiavellian uses of political terror or in the new-fangled Jacobean taste for spectacular stage shows, fear is pervasive on the Shakespearean stage, reflecting individual emotions such as “the dread of something after death” mentioned by Hamlet, as much as the ever-present social apprehension of the plague or foreign invasions. Shakespeare, for one, distinguishes fear (which occurs over 800 occurrences in the canon) from dread (50 occurrences) or fright, which is often to be found in ironic contexts, with an underlying suggestion that the events in question are not really worth the fretting they cause.
The notion of fear in connection with Shakespeare goes well beyond the modalities specific to the Early Modern English stage: the fact that the Bard’s works have been canonised and become compulsory reading at school and university has generated a fear of Shakespeare, while the arrival of his plays on the continental stages in the 18th century spawned trepidation among audiences and authors alike: there is certainly a form of fear in Voltaire’s loathing of, as much as in the Romantic playwrights’ desire to emulate, the master. This lasting dread is epitomized today under the alliterative heading of “no fear Shakespeare” and in the various attempts to domesticate the intricacies of Elizabethan writing with the help of reading companions, modernized editions, etc. The fear of Shakespeare can also become a fear for Shakespeare, in view of the endless probes and conspiracy plots around his identity that has arisen since the end of the 19th century.
We look forward to bringing together historians, literary scholars and theatre practitioners, as well as specialists in drama, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, sociology and anthropology to offer contributions on topics including (but not limited to):
Theories of/about fear in Early Modern England;
The different degrees of fear in Early Modern England;
Symptoms of fear on the Early Modern stage (body language, vocal language, masks, costumes, makeup, etc.) / a phenomenology of fear;
What and who is feared on the Shakespearean stage? (terrifying portents, threats, exemplary sentences, horrible and horrifying shows, mutilations and murders, ghosts, supernatural interventions, etc);
How and why is fear elicited in audience members? (staging tricks, noises, smoke, visions, etc.);
The fear of Shakespeare / “No fear Shakespeare”;
Fear for Shakespeare;
Updating Shakespeare in the context of war, terror or terrorism;
Invoking Shakespeare to allay fear.
Please visit the Société Française Shakespeare website for more information.
The Midwest Conference on British Studies is proud to announce that its 63rd Annual Meeting will be hosted by Iowa State University in Ames, September 16-18, 2016. The keynote speaker will be Susan Kingsley Kent of University of Colorado Boulder, and the plenary address will be given by Ian Archer of the University of Oxford.
The MWCBS seeks papers from scholars in all fields of British Studies, broadly defined to include those who study England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Britain’s Empire and the Commonwealth from Roman Britain to the modern age. We welcome scholars from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including but not limited to history, literature, political science, gender studies, and art history. Proposals for complete sessions are preferred, although proposals for individual papers will be considered. We welcome roundtables (of four participants plus chair) and panels (of three participants plus chair/commentator) that:
• offer comparative analyses of different periods of British Studies, such as comparing medieval and early modern issues in context
• situate the arts, letters, and sciences in a British cultural context
• examine representations of British and imperial/Commonwealth national identities
• consider Anglo-American relations, past and present
• examine new trends in British Studies
• assess a major work or body of work by a scholar
• explore new developments in digital humanities and/or research methodologies
As the result of positive responses to professional development sessions at recent conferences, we encourage proposals for sessions that discuss collaborative or innovative learning techniques in the British Studies classroom and for sessions on the topics of research, publication, or employment. This year the Program Committee will also entertain proposals for poster sessions and for panels featuring the pre-circulation of papers among participants and audience members.
The MWCBS welcomes presentations by advanced graduate students and will award the Walter L. Arnstein Prize for the best graduate student paper(s) given at the conference. A limited number of graduate travel scholarships will also be available, and all graduate students are encouraged to apply. Further details will be available on the MWCBS website:
Gender and Early Modern Drama
This session seeks papers on any aspect of gender in Early Modern English drama. Abstracts of 250-300 words are invited for papers to be delivered at the annual conference of the Rocky Mountain MLA in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6-8, 2016. Email abstracts – including your title, institutional affiliation, and email addresses – to Jennifer Lodine-Chaffey () by March 15, 2016. All submissions will be acknowledged and notifications sent by March 20, 2016.
More information is available on the conference website:
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