Reforming Shakespeare: 1593 and After


Richard Wilson (Kingston University) "Title TBC"


İnci Bilgin Tekin and Barclay Rafferty (De Montfort University) "Othello As A Perpetually Transformıng Text And its Contemporary Stage And Screen Approprıatıons"

Andrew Cecil Bradley calls Othello "the greatest poet of all Shakespeare’s heroes". Many critics agree that Othello is a great play for all times.  Othello has probably been the most appropriated Shakespearean play on stage while on screen, as Lorne M. Buchman observes, "Othello has received the least critical attention and continues to be one of the most rarely seen of all cinematic adaptations of the plays". This study examines several contemporary stage and screen appropriations of Othello in terms of how they reform Othello for their contemporary contexts, while questioning in what ways the Shakespearean text provides new spatial grounds to rediscover its perpetual adaptability.

Paul Brown (De Montfort University) "Shakespeare's Collaborators: The Company He Kept"

Modern attribution scholarship credits Shakespeare with a larger canon than is traditionally afforded. It also paints him more readily collaborating with other dramatists than was once thought. This means that, away from the works themselves, increasingly more is known about Shakespeare's literary connections. The study of the dramatists professionally, and socially, attached to Shakespeare helps us refocus our view of playwrights and playwriting in this period. This talk examines those writers and their biographies when seen as collaborators of Shakespeare. It seeks to consider what the mechanisms and characteristics of his collaborators were, asking particularly which aspects were prevalent in his selection of--and his being selected as--a co-author.

Nicola Boyle (De Montfort University) "Juliet and her Romeo: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Reformed"

Should Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet more properly be known as Juliet and Romeo? Juliet is the driving force behind much of the action of the play. This paper demonstrates how the play is reformed when we take into account the elevation of Juliet over Romeo in scenes where they appear together.

Anna Blackwell (De Montfort University) "'Bear from hence his body, and mourn you for him': Adapting Coriolanus, Tom Hiddleston's body and action cinema"

In 2013 British actor Tom Hiddleston took to the stage as the lead in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Coriolanus (dir. Josie Rourke). Though having initial success in his career as a theatrical actor and some minor roles in period pieces for television, Hiddleston gained celebrity as the Norse trickster god Loki in the Marvel comic book adaptations; first appearing in Thor (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2011) and then The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012) and Thor: The Dark World (dir. Alan Taylor, 2013). Hiddleston’s unique brand of matinee idol looks, upright bearing, intelligence and a certain Loki-esque mischievousness engendered a large internet-based following. His return to theatre at this point unsurprisingly thus followed a recent popular template for homegrown Hollywood stars which, in the same year, saw Jude Law as Henry Vat the Noel Coward Theatre and next year will see Benedict Cumberbatch take on Hamlet. More surprisingly, however, was the extent to which Rourke’s production actively courted the visibility of the star behind the character. This was not only to enable the play’s commercial success but in order to draw interesting and relevant parallels between Coriolanus and Hiddleston’s celebrity and to situate these within the action film aesthetic through which Hiddleston’s fame had been established. This paper will thereby explore the ways in which Rourke’s Coriolanus purposefully reformed Shakespeare’s play by situating the popular meanings of Hiddleston’s body as a site of non-authorial adaptation.

Tom Rutter (Sheffield University) "Shakespeare and Captain Thomas Stukeley"


Nigel Wood (Loughborough University) "A 'Worldly' Shakespeare"

For Edward Said, the major enabling (and thereby complacent) fiction is to deny a text's worldly' status and establish its credentials either by extracting its 'timeless' qualities--thus to celebrate them--or by hiving it off into some aesthetic realm proof against the ontingent and pragmatic. His aspiration for a 'Democratic' and newly 'Humanistic' criticism challenges these impulses and provides an agenda for Shakespeare readings and performances that takes note of the 'worldly' pressures of the Elizabethan/Jacobean moment, alongside the imperatives of our own present cultures. My focus will be on The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, and in the spirit of Said's aims, it will attempt to re-capture the 'worldly' status of romance and its political impact, then as now.

Siobhan Keenan (De Montfort University) "'Shakespeare, the King's Men and Revisiting the Theory of 'Strong' and 'Weak' Acting Companies"

I'll be talking about how the Chamberlain's/King's Men aren't just unique because of their association with Shakespeare's genius but because of their uniquely long theatrical life and association (as writer/players) in an era when most acting companies and playwright/company relationships were less stable and less long-lived.

Malte Bischof (St Andrew's University) "On the Editing of Hamlet: 'To be or not to be' in Q1, Q2 and F"

I am interested in renegotiating the interpretive dispute concerning the provenance and
authority of the different texts of Hamlet found in the first Quarto (Q1, 1603), the second
Quarto (Q2, 1604/5) and the Folio edition (F, 1623). I argue that modern editors have not
fully recognized that Q1 presents not only a different text but also a different conception of Hamlet and therefore fail to admit Q1 as a play of its own. More specifically, I argue that their judgement of Q1 as a corrupted text has neglected a neutral approach that considers the value of its positioning of the soliloquy beginning ‘to be or not to be’ might have for the play. The positioning of the soliloquy determines the question--one which recurs elsewhere in Shakespeare’s tragedies, for example in Lear’s assertion that he is "more sinned against than sinning"--of whether or not Hamlet’s downfall is precipitated by what happens to him or by what he is. In all three versions, Hamlet’s downfall is a result of his hesitation. His increasing hesitancy, however, is more gradual in the later versions of Hamlet--Q2 and F--which suggests that Hamlet’s hesitancy is a product of the circumstances. In contrast, Q1 displays more strongly his hesitant nature. The comparatively early confirmation of Hamlet's hesitancy in the form of the soliloquy in Q1 suggests that Hamlet does not descend into hesitancy as much as it is already a fixed feature of his character. His hesitation appears as an antecedent to the circumstances of the play. I conclude that the different positioning of the 'to be or not to be' soliloquy in Q1 is not an indication for a corrupted text but rather a proof for its originality--that calls into question the widely held assumption that Q1 lacks authority.

Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University) "Stealing Shakespeare: Detective Fiction and Cultural Value"


Gail Marshall (Leicester University) "Richard III and the Victorians"


Graham Holderness (University of Hertfordshire) "Re-forming Shakespeare: The Aldermanbury Monument"

In the garden where once stood the of the church of St Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, in the City of London, a statue of Shakespeare bears a memorial plaque, dedicated in 1896 to Heminge and Condell, editors of the First Folio, and states that the world owes to them "all that it calls Shakespeare". This monument ironically commemorates not Shakespeare, but Shakespeare's first editors; memorialises not the author, but the process via which the author's works are transmitted to the modern reader and playgoer. This paper uses the monument to explore a shift from the notion of Shakespeare as supreme authorial genius, to the concept of Shakespeare's work as a product of editorial practice. The longer history of the church that embraced the statue further illuminates the historical reformation and 're-formation' of Shakespeare's life, reputation and work.