Lecture: Shakespeare, Pilgrimage and ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’

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.

Shakespeare in America

This was long thought to be the only portrait ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Americans were mad for Shakespeare. For the evidence, look no further than “Shakespeare in America: An Anthology From the Revolution to Now,” to be published by the Library of America next month, just in time for that big birthday. 


The book has a forword by that esteemed Shakespeare scholar, Bill Clinton.


See full article in The Telegraph.




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Is all the world a stage? Hamlet in North Korea

the globe theatre
The Globe Theatre (Photo credit: kevinofsydney)


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.)



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Review of Ubik, by Philip K. Dick

Photoshoot of missing android head of Philip K...
Photoshoot of missing android head of Philip K Dick and Woman in metro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philip K Dick’s funny and peculiar near-futurology

Both eerie and amusing, Ubik’s vision of 1992 from 1966
mixes unsettling prescience with some terrific comedy.



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Amsterdam goes Irish

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.

See The Irish Times

English: Inside the in . Español: Interior del...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Scientism in the arts and humanities

Roger Scruton speaking about his book 'Green P...
Roger Scruton speaking about his book ‘Green Philosophy’ (Photo credit: Policy Exchange)

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.

Article in the New Atlantis.


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Gender theory in France: ‘An American academic import inspires mass protests’

Judith Butler II
Judith Butler (Photo credit: JavierPsilocybin)

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.

See article in Boston Globe.

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