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The Scrivener | Shakespeare's First Theatre Unearthed, CFP's and more | Shakespeare Scholarship News for the Week of June 9

Hey everyone, how has your week been? Steven here and while I am not back officially as editor just yet (hopefully, very soon in case you all are wondering). I am filling in for Emily on The Scrivener for the next couple of weeks as she is currently doing productions in California. So without further ado let’s jump in to this week’s top stories of Scholarship and Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s  Curtain Theatre Unearthed:

Shakespeare Scholarship this week got what would be considered by many a holy grail for new research opportunities. This week archeologists uncovered parts of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre where  it is believed that both Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were first performed for the public. The Curtain Theatre, north of the Thames in Shoreditch, was home to Shakespeare’s company — the Lord Chamberlain’s Men — before the  Globe theatre was built. Remains of both the walls that formed the gallery and yard were found by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology, or MOLA.

“This is a fantastic site which gives us unique insight into early Shakespearean theatres,” MOLA’s Chris Thomas, who is leading the archaeological work, said Wednesday. The theatre, discovered on Hewlett Street, was unearthed last October when real estate developers stumbled upon it while working on plans for new buildings. This discovery also comes on the heels of the beginning of the 2012 London Olympics, for which the city has been gearing up over the past 2 years. A discovery like this only adds more cultural significance to the city. London has been celebrating its cultural heritage with the World Shakespeare Festival taking place at the Globe and across Britain, timed to coincide with the Olympics this summer. The festival runs through November.

Shakespeare Knew About Stress Disorders:

Shakespeare was a true scholar of his day, although more an accidental one  than a real one in this case — so much so that he helped identify a common aliment in today’s modern society. According to a recent study done by Kenneth Heaton, a medical doctor and published author on the Bard’s oeuvre, Shakespeare in 42 of his works acutely described psychosomatic symptoms that were brought on by stress.  The study found that Shakespeare’s portrayal of symptoms such as dizziness, faintness, and blunted or heightened sensitivity to touch and pain in characters expressing profound emotions in his works was significantly more common than in works by his contemporaries.

“Vertigo, giddiness or dizziness is expressed by five male characters in The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Henry VI part 1, Cymbeline, and Troilus and Cressida. And there are at least 11 instances of breathlessness associated with extreme emotion in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Troilus and Cressida, and in the poems The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis, compared with just two in the works of other writers.

“Meanwhile, fatigue and weariness as a result of grief or distress is a familiar sensation among Shakespeare’s characters, most notably in Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Richard II, and Henry IV part 2.

Dr Heaton concluded that Shakespeare ‘was an exceptionally body-conscious writer,’ suggesting that the technique was used to make his characters seem more human, to engender greater empathy, and to raise the emotional temperature of his plays and poems.”

Social Shakespeare Scholarship and Learning: Shakespeare to become an interactive iPad App Thanks to Scholars:

A University of Indiana professor is currently helping to develop an interactive Shakespeare app for the iPad. Associate English professor Ellen MacKay is working with South Bend-based Luminary Digital Media on a lecture stream for The Tempest and soon will direct and develop an app for another of Shakespeare’s works, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These apps will allow for social reading, annotation and sharing. Each text is accompanied by expert commentaries and features full-length, scrolling audio performances by the Actors From the London Stage company. Both these apps can be customized by the user. The apps will also link directly to illustrations, pod-casts, and other materials from the Folger Shakespeare Library. MacKay says the commentators were advised to help make Shakespeare accessible to a non-scholarly audience which is something MacKay does frequently in her own college courses that she teaches.

“Shakespeare isn’t as distant from us as sometimes we think,” MacKay says.

The Tempest is currently available on iTunes for $13.99 and A Midsummer Night’s Dream  will be available sometime later this year or early in 2013.

Year of Shakespeare Interactive Website  Launched:

With the World Shakespeare Festival in full swing and with London celebrating all things Bard as it gears up for the Olympics, a new interactive  website has been launched in order to help further the worldwide reach of World Shakespeare Festival. is a project created by the Shakespeare Institute, the University of Warwick, and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to document and discuss the performances and ideas emerging from the World Shakespeare Festival.  The website will offer the following:

  • reviews of each of the World Shakespeare Festival productions
  • special features from academics, artists, and educators involved in the festivities
  • space for interested readers from across the world to comment on and discuss ideas arising from the festival

The aim of the website is to create more discussion among the masses as to Shakespeare’s cultural significance on a global scale.

CFP’s and Announcements:

Here are some Calls For Papers to check out this week if you are interested:

  • The Organizing Committee is pleased to announce the CFP/List of seminars for the Shakespeare and Myth ESRA Conference, which will be held in Montpellier (26-29 June 2013). You can find more information here.
  • Another Call For Papers for ESRA Conference has gone out. The topic for this paper is one that is quite interesting: The Early Modern Reception of Shakespeare in Print and Manuscript: The Rise of Shakespearean Cultural Capital?, which we will be organising at the European Shakespeare Research Association (ESRA) congress in Montpellier, in southern France, next summer, 26-29 June 2013. The goal of this seminar will be to look into the early formation of the Shakespearean myth—how, in other words, belief in the value of his works and in his significance as a writer was constructed. The eighteenth century is often seen as the moment of the true rise of Shakespearean cultural capital. As a result, the early modern reception of Shakespeare in both print and manuscript has received comparatively little attention. The quantity and quality of the early reader response to Shakespeare, for instance, remains underestimated, despite the fact that it anticipates and initiates in crucial ways the process of Shakespearean myth-making which we more commonly associate with later centuries.Participants in this seminar will thus be invited to reflect upon the early modern presence of Shakespeare in print and manuscript. Colleagues interested in book history, manuscript studies, early modern cultural studies, or the symbolic production, circulation and consumption of Shakespeare in the early modern period will be especially welcome to join the seminar. You can find more information about the seminars at this conference here and more general information about the conference here.
  • Lastly, a Call for Papers regarding the topic of Reading the Ancient Near East in Europe has gone out by way of Dublin. According to the announcement: This conference aims to restore the visibility and significance of classical writings on the ancient Near East in early modern European literary culture, to complicate our understanding of the ‘Renaissance’ values that emerged out of the engagement with the classical legacy, and to bridge the gap between the theoretical models of the contemporary and classical engagements between Europe and the East in the early modern period.Plenary speakers include Neil Rhodes (University of St Andrew’s), Edith Hall (King’s College, London) and Noreen Humble (University of Calgary). The conference will also see the launch of ‘Reading East: Irish Sources and Resources’, a website introducing and cataloging a selection of the early printed book holdings of Dublin’s extraordinarily rich research libraries, including Marsh’s Library, the Chester Beatty Library, the Edward Worth Library, and the UCD and Trinity College Libraries.We welcome papers on any aspect of the early modern response to the Near Eastern interests of classical antiquity, and particularly papers that examine texts held at Dublin research libraries.

Topics may include, but are not confined to, to the following:

  • The literary and political reception of authors such as Xenophon, Herodotus, Ctesias
  • Antiquarian interest in the ancient Near East
  • Classical writings in travel itineraries/writings
  • Sources, analogues and exemplars
  • Editions, translations and adaptations
  • The ancient Near East and the ‘republic of letters’
  • Ethnography and historiography of the ancient Near East
  • Theories of the ‘barbarian’
  • Representations of the ancient Near East and the New World


Please send abstracts of 300-400 words, together with a brief bio, to the organizers, Dr Jane Grogan and Dr Marina Ansaldo by July 15th 2012. You can find more information here.


Well that’s all for this week. I hope I gave you some food for thought. What did you think of Shakespeare’s first theatre being unearthed? Or what about the fact that Shakespeare inadvertently discovered and accurately described psychosomatic symptoms of stress disorders in his plays? Or what about the Interactive iPad apps and website? Let us know what you think in the comments down below. You can also drop us a line on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We would love to hear from you.

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