In association with The University of Hull, and with more details about contributing to follow shortly, the BSA is proud to present…
Death, Life, and Afterlives
8-11 September, 2016—‘Remember me!’—A date for your diary!
‘Remember me!’ commands the ghost of Hamlet’s father at a moment in English history when the very purpose of remembrance of the dead was being transformed. How does the past haunt the present in Shakespeare? What do Shakespeare’s works reveal about the processes of mourning and remembrance? Shakespeare lived at a time when the relationship between the living and the dead was undergoing profound change as a consequence of religious reformation. The plays and poems blur the distinction between life, death, and afterlife: Hero and Hermione suddenly appear to be lifeless yet live, with Hermione transformed into a living statue. Described by Macbeth as ‘walking shadows’, the ghostly nature of theatrical mimesis is doubly haunting in historical dramas when the living mimic the dead. After a span of four hundred years, how can actors, directors and textual editors continue to enliven Shakespeare’s plays, and how do they transform their meanings through the very process of revival? Shakespeare breathed new life into ‘old tales’: how do his acts of literary resuscitation transform the material he revived and what it signifies? Alongside consideration of the purpose of remembrance in Shakespeare, the conference will seek to stir up debate about the wider implications of how Shakespeare remembered the past and how we remember Shakespeare.
The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death offers us a timely opportunity also to reflect upon the continuation of his life and art diachronically, spatially from the Globe across the globe, and materially on stage, page, canvas, music score and screen. As Mark Bayer has written, ‘Much like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, Shakespeare haunts literary history’. How does Shakespeare continue to haunt us? The second strand of the conference will explore this question, focusing on Shakespeare’s literary, dramatic, and transcultural afterlives. The conference will thus seek to explore the various ways in which Shakespeare’s ghost has been invoked, summoned up, or warded off over the past four centuries. We aim to provoke debate and dialogue about Shakespeare’s cultural and canonical status through a consideration of the more subtle – and ghostly – allusions to his life, death, and art.
Our aim is to ensure that the BSA conference marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death has an international reach and appeals to scholars, teachers, theatre practitioners and to a wider public. The conference is a prestigious event and will be held in the official run-up to Hull’s year as the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. Do join with us in transforming our understanding of Shakespearean transformations in this landmark year.
Topics may include, but are not limited to
- Shakespearean transformations: borrowing/adaptation/appropriation/intertextuality
- Shakespeare and death
- Speaking to/of and impersonating the dead in Shakespeare
- Shakespeare, religion and reformations of ritual
- Shakespeare and memory/remembrance
- Shakespeare and time: temporality/anachronism /archaism
- Shakespeare and early modern conceptions of ‘life’
- Emotion and embodiment in Shakespeare
- Shakespeare and early modern notions of ‘self’
- Theatres in Shakespeare’s time
- Shakespeare and music
- Shakespeare’s afterlives
- Transcultural Shakespeare
- Critical and theoretical conceptions of/engagements through Shakespeare
- Textual resurrections: editing Shakespeare
- Rethinking Shakespearean biography
- Enlivening Shakespeare teaching