Thursday 10 April, 12.30 pm. University Library lecture room, 4th floor.
This lecture will investigate the meaning of pilgrimage and examine its representation in Shakespeare’s plays, considering the impact of this predominantly medieval tradition when found in the work of a post-Reformation English playwright.
It will pay special attention to All’s Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare’s tragicomedy in which the heroine, Helena, undertakes a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela.
Prof. Helen Wilcox (Bangor, Wales) is an authority on Renaissance English literature. She was Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Groningen between 1991 and 2006.
Amnesty International has recently criticised the Globe Theatre for including North Korea in its world tour of Hamlet. Students will remember Jan Kott‘s staging of Hamlet behind the Iron Curtain, so there has been a history of performing the play under oppressive political conditions. The parallel with North Korea is not exact though as there the audience will presumably be carefully vetted.
On BBC Radio 4’s arts programme, Front Row, the artistic director of The Globe, Dominic Dromgoole, appeared to draw parallels between Shakespeare’s England and North Korea. I say ‘appears’ as I presume that he did not intend to compare King James VI & I and Korea’s Supreme Leader. (Listen to the interview here.)
More than 1,000 bemused Irish residents of Amsterdam have received letters impeccably written in Irish – asking them if they would like to vote in the European elections in May.
On headed paper of the Amsterdam City Council, the letters begin “A dhuine uasail”…On the other hand, “Má theastaíonn uait votáil i do thír dhúchais le haghaidh Pharlaimint na hEorpa, ní gá duit rud ar bith a dhéanamh ach ahmain má tá tú cláraithe cheana féin san Isiltír”, the Irish expats are advised . . . In other words, if they wish to vote in their own countries they need do nothing at all, unless they are already registered to vote in the Netherlands.
The conservative philosopher and commentator Roger Scruton laments that:
[The] transformation of the humanities into an anti-cultural force seems to be where we are today — or nearly so. Increasingly, we can see attempts to rectify the humanities’ difficulties by assimilating their subject matter to one or another of the sciences.
Judith Butler, the American theorist of cultural studies has found herself at the centre of media attention in France as controversial gender-related legislation is debated.
As a result of all this, Butler suddenly found herself massively famous in France. She had established her reputation in the early 1990s with “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity,” a book that itself drew on French theory. Schooled in the work of Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault, Butler argued that what we assume to be essential human characteristics are instead malleable traits fashioned by social habits. Rather than springing fully formed from our biological nature, sexual identity is sculpted by what literary theorists call discursive practices and what the rest of us call language, dress, and cultural conventions. Simone de Beauvoir had famously declared that one is not born a woman, but instead one becomes a woman. In essence, Butler doubled down by emphasizing the subversive as well as repressive possibilities in social constructions of the self.