1. Avant-Garde Shakespeares/Shakespeare in the Avant-Garde


Aleksandra Sakowska, The Shakespeare Institute (UK),

Lucian Ghita, Clemson University (USA)


This seminar seeks to explore the relationships between Shakespeare and the avant-garde, understood both as a historically-determined formation and as a larger discursive impulse that seeks to break down aesthetic norms and conventions. As the title of the seminar suggests, the two terms are historically and theatrically contingent. We will address questions about the avant-garde pedigree of Shakespeare and the Shakespearean pedigree of the avant-garde. Shakespeare did not provide a mere blank slate on which the avant-garde artists could project their thoughts and concerns. Rather, the traffic of ideas and influence was two-directional. The avant-garde pioneers were culturally conditioned to punctuate certain aspects of Shakespeare’s plays that had received little or no critical attention until that point. In turn, their experimental approaches have profoundly reshaped how we perform and think about Shakespeare nowadays, and have opened up new ways to imagine Renaissance theatre more broadly.

Shakespeare played a crucial role in the development of the avant-garde movements that emerged at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Shakespearean ideas and themes were at the forefront of major textual and theatrical experimentations throughout the long twentieth century: from Alfred Jarry’s Macbeth-inspired farce Ubu roi and Harley Granville-Barker’s Savoy productions to Bertold Brecht’s ground-breaking adaptation of Coriolanus and Peter Brook’s postwar experimental reworkings of Titus Andronicus and Hamlet. Although the seminar’s main focus is on Shakespeare’s theatrical afterlives, we welcome contributions on Shakespeare’s relationship with other artistic incarnations of the avant-garde (film, visual arts, dance, music, etc.). We invite participants to submit papers focusing on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Shakespeare in the historical avant-garde (France, Germany, England, Poland, Italy)
  • Revolutions in Shakespeare ; Shakespearean revolutions
  • Theorizations of “avant-garde Shakespeare”
  • Shakespeare after Jan Kott
  • Major events in the avant-garde’s reception of Shakespeare
  • Symbolist/Dada/Surrealist/Expressionist Shakespeares
  • Elizabethan genealogies of the avant-garde
  • Post-1945 experimental rewritings and appropriations of Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare and the European avant-garde film
  • Shakespeare in the East-European Avant-Garde Theatre


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to before 31 January 2017.



  1. “The accent of his tongue affecteth him:” “Accentism” and/in Shakespeare


Carla Della Gatta (University of Southern California, USA)

Adele Lee (University of Greenwich, UK)


The sound of Shakespeare’s dialogue in various languages has much to do with the accent in which his plays are performed. From the British John Gielgud’s distinctively mannered voice to the rich, bass-tones of the American Paul Robeson and the lyrical cadences of the Italian Ernesto Rossi, stage actors have defined and defied the “proper” Shakespearean accent. Yet acting methods, cultural hierarchies, and the Shakespeare industry continues to pressurise actors, directors and dramaturgs to streamline or “elevate” their accents, while others find themselves typecast and their accents deployed for comical effect. Of course Shakespeare himself delineated characters linguistically and frequently refers to “plain,” “fine,” “rough,” “heavy” and even “Christian” accents in his plays.

This seminar seeks to explore the aural distinctions and consequences of accentism – an under-researched topic that is not dissimilar from (and often intersects with) racism, sexism and classism – across languages and cultures. How do accents work to distinguish characters from different regions (Wales, Denmark, Venice) when performed in English-speaking countries today? In non-English countries and productions, what affect do “foreign” accents have on performance reception? And how are Shakespeare’s textual cues translated for the stage?

Not enough attention has been paid to the dramatist’s varied and pointed use of accents to denote Otherness and to convey certain traits. Nor, despite the publication of the British Library’s Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD, has the question of how Shakespearean English was pronounced at the time been fully resolved, and speculation as to whether Appalachian-American or “Old Country” accents are “closer” than contemporary English to how Shakespeare originally sounded continues.

Believing that accentism is a relatively under-theorized topic in the Shakespeare industry, we aim to probe discussion into the history, nature and effects of accentism and invite papers on the following topics:

  • The search for an “authentic” sounding Shakespeare
  • The effect of hearing and/or performing Shakespeare in different accents
  • The exclusion, stereotyping, and language used for “non-standard” English speakers
  • The accent-specific nature of Shakespearean roles
  • Shakespeare’s treatment of regional and/or foreign accents
  • Theatre practitioners who have influenced the perception of a “correct” accent
  • Translating Shakespeare’s accents into other languages and cultures

We welcome papers that examine specific theatre productions, actors, repertories, or that take on these questions more broadly in a theoretical, historical, and methodological context.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to before 31 January 2017.



  1. “There are more things in heaven and earth”: Shakespeare’s philosophy, philosophy’s Shakespeare revisited


Katarzyna Burzyńska (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)

Annie Martirosyan (Independent scholar, Armenia)


Terry Eagleton once wrote that “it is difficult to read Shakespeare without feeling that he was almost certainly familiar with the writings of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein and Derrida” (Eagleton 1986: 9-10). Following up on Eagleton’s famous remark one feels tempted to say that it is impossible to read Shakespeare outside philosophical reflection. Indeed, the history of numerous intersections between philosophy and Shakespeare is very rich, going back to 1774 when William Richardson wrote A Philosophical Analysis of Shakespeare. Despite this very long tradition of philosophising Shakespeare, after the publication of the ground-breaking books of Stanley Cavell (Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 1987) and Martha C. Nussbaum (Love’s Knowledge Essays on Philosophy and Literature 1992), philosophical criticism came to a sudden and unexpected halt.

One might suspect that the growing radicalization of literary criticism pushed philosophical criticism as politically naïve to the very margins of literature studies. Since the publication of Political Shakespeare (1985) the early modern has been chained to the “material forces and relations of production” (Dollimore 1985: VIII). Nevertheless, in spite of the brilliant contributions to the Renaissance studies, there is a growing sense that the new historicist/materialist paradigms have been exhausted. Hugh Grady criticizes the cultural materialist obsessive antagonism to essentialism and modern subjectivity. Kiernan Ryan, a well-known left-wing Shakespeare critic suggests we reclaim the notion of Shakespeare’s universality from reactionary critics and focus more on its actual revolutionary potential in today’s world.

In the light of the growing disappointment with “political Shakespeare” and a burning need to “reclaim” Shakespeare for philosophical reflection we would like to propose a seminar on intersections between Shakespeare’s plays and philosophy. The aim of the seminar is to bring together scholars interested in Shakespeare and philosophical analysis as well as revive the notion of Shakespeare’s universality for both literary studies and philosophy. We would like to invite papers on the following topics (the list is by no means exhaustive):

  1. Intersections of Shakespearean texts/performances/films/new media and philosophical reflection;
  2. Historicist readings of Shakespeare’s plays in the light of various philosophies;
  3. Anachronistic readings of Shakespeare in the light of various philosophies;
  4. Philosophical readings of Shakespearean adaptations and appropriations;
  5. Shakespeare, text and philosophy;
  6. Shakespeare and philosophy of performance;
  7. Shakespeare and continental philosophy;
  8. Shakespeare and non-European philosophies;
  9. Shakespeare and Eastern European/Russian philosophy;
  10. Philosophers on Shakespeare;
  11. Shakespeare on philosophy/philosophers;
  12. Methodology of reading Shakespeare through philosophy.


Please send 200-300-word abstracts and biographies to before 31 January 2017.


  1. “You must needs be strangers”: Shakespeare and the Scenography of Mobility


Miguel Ramalhete Gomes (University of Porto, Portugal)

Remedios Perni (University of Murcia, Spain)

Christian Smith (University of Warwick, UK)


In a description of the migrant population held in Calais in July 2015, David Cameron referred to a “swarm of people”, a dehumanising metaphor – sometimes used by aristocrats in Shakespeare’s plays to speak of plebeians, peasants and the common people – which showed the symbolic scene that was being set as European governments discussed the migrant question. In the current context, this scene associated with geographic and cultural mobility needs to be set in the temporality of traumatic repetition: Shakespeare’s early modern tragic scenes, which depict the roots of the migrant question at the advent of modernity, can be used to read their repetition in the present. This is not only because we read what is at stake in the present in Shakespeare’s plays, but more deeply, because the early modern period saw the first traumatic scenes of what would become capitalism: enclosure, exclusion, exile, de-racination, de-pastoralisation in the interest of urbanisation and worker combination in workshops.

Through the theatrical metaphor of the scenography of mobility, with the visual dimensions of a tableau, we invite papers that address the question of mobility as represented in Shakespeare, performances of Shakespeare, and Shakespeare in the new media. We are interested in probing dislocation through, as well as the occupation of, space as a political problem and an act of resistance. This implies considering the spaces from and to where characters move, and the traumatic scene that occurs at the borders between the two spaces. Such an approach can be reconfigured as an inquiry into why and how characters are pushed out from some spaces and pulled in into others. The scene of confrontation which often takes place at the interface/border can also be seen to take several forms, from blocking, ignoring, allowing and defusing, as well as appropriating and commodifying acts of mobility.

Proposals will be welcomed on topics including but not limited to the following:

  • Depictions of dislocation in Shakespeare’s plays;
  • Depictions of border clashes in Shakespeare: including at national borders, town borders, generic borders (comedy/tragedy), borders of the self and other (psychoanalytic, philosophical, or feminist), and borders between sanity and insanity;
  • Contested occupations of spaces in Shakespeare’s plays;
  • The early modern migrant question as a source of current migrant questions: the temporalities of scenes of border conflict from early to late modernity;
  • Gender dynamics in migration, occupation and mobility;
  • Economic criticism approach to the migrant question;
  • Shakespeare performed by and to migrants: the dialectics of identity and difference;
  • Performances of occupation: the onstage/offstage boundary;
  • The relationship between tragedy, trauma and mobility in Shakespeare’s plays;
  • National issues (England, Scotland, Wales, France): invasion, migration, evolution and devolution in Shakespeare’s history plays.


Please send 200-300-word abstracts and biographies to, and before 31 January 2017.

  1. Shakespeare and Translation for the Stage


Madalina Nicolaescu (University of Bucharest)

Marta Gibinska (Jagiellonian University)


Translation is the foundation of Shakespeare’s life in European theatres. Given the present investment in re-creating Shakespeare, a critical scrutiny of practices and strategies of recrafting him in translations for the stage is of paramount importance. The aim of the seminar is to explore the problems of translating Shakespeare’s plays for theatres which are not only part of other cultural traditions than English, but also for theatres operating in conventions other than the Elizabethan ones.

Discussions in this seminar will include both a diachronic and a synchronic dimension, the general idea being to bring together participants who are both researchers in the history of Shakespeare translations and practioners involved in on-going projects of translating the plays.  Discussions may revolve around concepts derived from translation studies such as “performability” (to be expanded and realigned with current views on stage translation as a theatrical practice) or the concept of “re-translation”. At the same time we would like the seminar to be context based, inscribing the translated texts in the histories of Shakespeare’s theatrical reception in various cultural and geographical spaces.

The areas which possibly suggest questions for members of the seminar to answer are as follows:

  1. Linguistic challenges concerning dialogue/monologue translation with particular attention paid to the character interpretation (remembering that words in plays always belong to characters).
  2. Cultural challenges concerning dialogue/monologue translation.( Challenges resulting from the encounter of different cultural codes governing the translation of dialogues/monologues)
  3. Translating for particular theatrical traditions. This issue may also include the discussion of the institutional “habitus” impacting Shakespeare translations across various periods in the development of  national theatres; comparative analyses of translations produced at different times and/or circumscribed by different theatrical traditions  cultural expectations are welcome)
  4. Translating for a particular director/actor; the varying degrees and forms of the translator’s agency as co-participant in the theatrical event; the issue of “co-operative translation”.
  5. Translating with an eye on censorship: political aspects of translation.
  6. Experience of speaking different Shakespearean texts in the same language: possible points of view of actors, directors, spectators.
  7. Translation as a tool in adapting Shakespeare to modernity/postmodernity; the impact of global media on the norms for Shakespeare translations and of the demands for instant accessibility that the present visual culture has shaped.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. ‘The strangers’ case’ and the ‘tracks’ of performance


Boika Sokolova (University of Notre Dame – USA / London Global Gateway)

Janice Valls-Russell (Research Institute for the Renaissance, the Neo-Classical Era and the Enlightenment (IRCL), University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France)

The questions this seminar seeks to engage with are suggested by two poetic quotations:


Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs, with their poor luggage

Plodding to th’ports and coasts for transportation…

… Go you to France or Flanders,

To any German province, Spain or Portugal,

Nay, anywhere that not adheres to England:

Why you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased

To find a nation of such barbarous temper

That, breaking out in hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth?

…  This is the strangers’ case …

                   Sir Thomas More, Hand D (Shakespeare?) (1593?)


See how efficient it still is

how it keeps itself in shape—

our country’s hatred.

How easily it vaults the tallest obstacles.

How rapidly it pounces, tracks us down.

Hatred, Wisława Szymborska (1993), (Transl. Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Separated by four centuries as they are, Shakespeare and the Polish Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska express similar concerns about the state of the world they inhabit. Such concerns have become alarmingly pressing today. Even as it enjoys unprecedented ethnic plurality, Europe is again subject to nationalist and racist tensions in a context of migration, induced by economic stress and wars.

This seminar invites prospective contributors to consider plays by Shakespeare and/or his contemporaries, which feature conflicts involving ‘strangers’, whether in commerce, love, or politics, and the performance choices made in a historically specific context. We are particularly interested in studies with a dual perspective, holding in their sights a past and a recent performance, and tracking down changes, or, possibly, historical lessons.

Suggested areas of interest:

  • How have representations of the ‘stranger’ in performance reflected different contexts?
  • How do reviews reflect/model change?
  • How is ‘strangeness’ expressed by casting, choice of period, overall design, revisions to the script, and how this has been received? Has translation contributed to this process?
  • When fears of the ‘outsider/stranger’ are justified by history – e.g., Jamala’s winner song of the 2016 Eurovision contest, ‘1944’ – how has this affected Shakespeare productions and their critical reception?
  • Is fear of ‘strangers’ gendered: are women more feared/rejected than men? are ‘strangers’ more liable to be rejected, challenged, or on the contrary made welcome by men rather than by women or the reverse?

The seminar size is capped to 14 participants, chosen on a first-come-first-served basis and the relevance of the proposal to the seminar topic.


Please send 300-500-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.



  1. Anatomizing Shakespearean Myth-making: Game of Thrones


Thea Buckley (The Shakespeare Institute and the RSC, UK)

Paul Hamilton, Independent scholar (USA)

Timo Uotinen (Royal Holloway, UK)


In The Winters Tale, Shakespeare interchanges Bohemia and Sicilia, recreating the globe to suit his dramatic purpose. This seminar examines similar rewritings, inviting papers that focus on dramatic, authorial, and journalistic uses of Shakespeare to mythologize and rewrite history, geography, and identity. In times of crisis, Shakespeare is often portrayed as a warrior of archetypal wisdom the better to valorize and endorse one’s own side.

By definition, crisis is a time of power politics and challenges to entrenched notions of centrality, homogeneity, and authority. This seminar is intentionally topical, given the late use of Shakespeare as a political mouthpiece during Brexit, deployed as a mythical icon and cultural authority to draw political battle lines, reconfigure history, and redefine identities. The appropriation of Shakespeare as ghostwriter is an ongoing phenomenon that requires a new critical analysis in an era where the boundaries within and between Europe and the world are becoming increasingly blurred.

Shakespeare’s polyvocal works in text, performance, and new media can also serve a revolutionary purpose, used as a political weapon to dethrone opponents or destabilize authority in nations where his works have been imported or imposed across borders during times of transition. In the recent television series Deutschland 83, Shakespeare’s works are impounded during a cross-border transit between the crumbling East and West; colonial interpretations have reconstructed Shakespeare’s works to create or consolidate new nationalistic identities and ideological boundaries and retake control of the discourse.

In their flexibility, Shakespeare’s works can serve both to reinforce or to rupture the fixity of structures and histories that have hitherto supported particular national agendas. The works’ preoccupation with the latent potential of identity and upheaval makes Shakespeare continually relevant to a presentist re-examination of ourselves and our political and geographical unions.

Suggested areas of interest:

  • How have representations of Shakespeare in text and performance reflected different situations of crisis, whether religious, economic, political, or other?
  • Can mythology be considered an attempt to escape economic reality, as Roland Barthes suggests?
  • Historic revisions or omissions of the Shakespearean text have served political positioning – e.g., Laurence Olivier’s removal of the martial role of Fortinbras in his filmic Hamlet – how has this practice affected the adaptation and/or critical reception of Shakespeare?
  • Is there such a thing as a Shakespeare lexicon, shorthand, or set of ‘mythemes’ that has a ‘self-evident’ cultural authority?
  • Can we unpick the dialectical appropriation of Shakespeare as nationalist/anti-nationalist symbol? In what contexts does this occur, what are the assumptions, and is it contingent on tangential representations of a martial appeal to masculinity via rousing ‘ countrymen’?
  • Is Bardolatry a province of the High/Low/Right/Left? Where does ‘Everyman Shakespeare’ enter? Has Shakespeare outgrown narrower concepts of Anglocentricity?
  • Has Shakespeare become a myth used across ideological fault lines to solidify or pry open viewpoints at critical junctures?


Please send 300-word abstracts and biographies to, and  before 31 January 2017.


  1. Shakespeare and European Writers: Inspiration, Resistance, Authority


Juan F. Cerdá (University of Murcia)

Ángel-Luis Pujante (University of Murcia)

Rui Carvalho Homem (University of Porto)


Besides having approached Shakespeare as an object of criticism (favourable or adverse), European playwrights, poets and novelists have responded to his work in numerous and often conflicting ways. From Pushkin, to García Lorca, to Nabokov, Shakespeare has been a productive influence and a source of inspiration, yet also, from Voltaire, to Tolstoi, to Ford Madox Ford, he has been a disputed source of concern and creative inhibition. The writers’ creative responses have hardly been homogeneous or decidedly for or against Shakespeare. Voltaire, who criticized him strongly, also thought that his plays could be an encouragement to make French drama more vital. Filipino/Spanish writer Manuel Lorenzo admired Shakespeare but held that he should not be taken as a model, as imitating him would entail imitation of his defects and oddities with disastrous results. In the hands of European creative writers, Shakespeare’s lines, characters and plots have been as much an example of beauty and genius as a point of departure for parody and contestation.

This seminar addresses the various responses of European creative writers vis-à-vis Shakespeare in general or specific works, and invites papers on this and related subjects. Suggested topics:


Creative responses to Shakespeare by European playwrights, poets and novelists, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries.


European writers’ choice of Shakespeare’s works as creative stimulus or inhibition.

Shakespeare as a source of plots (myth).

Shakespeare as provider of allusions and quotations.

Shakespeare and versions of authorship: the Bard’s shadow and authorial self-fashioning.

The Shakespeare cult in European literatures: from hagiography to satire.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to,, and before 31 January 2017.


  1. Staged on the Page: Transmedial Shakespeare in Theatre and Visual Arts


Anna Wołosz-Sosnowska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)

Megan Holman (Northumbria University, United Kingdom)


Henry Peacham’s 16th century drawing inspired by Titus Andronicus is claimed to have been the first step in establishing a relationship between Shakespeare’s plays and other forms of visual expression. Graphic representations, ranging from sketches of performances through depictions of actors to book illustrations, have long been the subject of research. However, any graphic work pertaining to Shakespeare has its inception in the play texts and/or theatrical performances. The number of theatrical performances which incorporate the visual arts is increasing. As a result, a question arises concerning the function of the occurring visual aspects and what ramifications might ensue. The issues that need to be touched upon are whether the graphic elements are ornamental, referential, symbolic or intertextual.

The aim of the seminar is to investigate correlations between the visual art (especially book illustrations, paintings, comics) and theatre, paying special attention to the interlacements and permeations of the two as well as their mutual impact on one another. An increasing number of visual works, paintings, comics, percolate into theatrical performances; and simultaneously the theatre is  an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a graphic artistic expression.

The seminar invites proposals for papers tackling the topic from the perspective of adaptation studies, semiotics, performance studies, and education. By focusing on permeations between different media and including elements of popular culture in highbrow art it is possible to examine their significance.

Possible threads for paper proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • Shakespeare and book illustrations
  • Shakespeare and/in comics
  • Shakespeare and the visual arts
  • The visual arts and/in the theatre
  • Comics in the theatre/ theatre in comics
  • Playbills and theatrical posters and their role in the theatre
  • History of illustrating Shakespeare
  • Film in the theatre/ theatre in the film
  • Intersemiotic translations of plays
  • Animated Shakespeare in theatre


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. Race in European Theatrical Cultures: Border Crossings and Hybrid Identities


Christy Desmet and Sujata Iyengar, University of Georgia (USA)

Krystyna Kujawińska-Courtney, University of Łódź (Poland)


Ira Aldridge, the well-known nineteenth-century African American  Shakespearean actor, found it impossible to work professionally in the United States, the land of his birth, because of racial and color prejudice. He took refuge in Europe, eventually dying in Łódź, where he is buried. Born in New York City, Aldridge began his career with the internationally recognized African Grove Theatre in that city. Limited by mid-nineteenth-century racism, he emigrated to Liverpool in search of additional opportunities to perform professionally, and performed Shakespearean and other dramatic roles in various cities in Britain – including Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, and Liverpool. He toured other European cities, from Dublin to Brussels, Vienna, Constantinople, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg, where his performance of Othello was met with great enthusiasm. Ira Aldridge transgressed not only geographical but methodological boundaries in his work, deploying what we might now call color-blind or rather color-conscious casting. His first role was Rollo, the hero of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s Pizzaro, who was of Peruvian descent. In addition to Othello, the Shakespearean role for which he was most famous, Aldridge played in Titus Andronicus, and (perhaps) Romeo and Juliet. He sometimes played caricatured figures, such as Mungo the black servant in the afterpiece The Padlock. But he also played white characters, wearing white-face make-up to play Bertram, the title roles in Richard III and Macbeth, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and adding a long white prosthetic hair-piece to play Lear (for which, as Théophile Gautier noted, he carefully and symbolically refused to whiten his hands).Ira Aldridge has been the subject of recent books, such as Bernth Lindfors’s Ira Aldridge (2011) and Ira Aldridge: The African Roscius (2007) and several important essays by Krystyna Kujawinska-Courtney, “Ira Aldridge, Shakespeare, and Color-Conscious Performances in Nineteenth-Century Europe” and “Ira Aldridge: European Shakespeare Tragedian.” In 2011, Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet, based on Aldridge’s life with Adrian Lester in the title role, premiered in London and New York. He continues to be portrayed as an antebellum African American hero in literature aimed at young black readers, such as Glenda Armand’s Ira’s Shakespeare Dream (2015).There is much more work to be done on Ira Aldridge as a transatlantic and European Shakespearean actor, and Poland, where Aldridge ultimately found a refuge and a showcase for his talents, provides the ideal place in which to consider his far-reaching legacy.


This brief account of Aldridge’s life and work foregrounds some of the major research questions surrounding the study of race in European theatre: what are the functions of and future of white- and blackface makeup on European stages? How does the concept of race change with transatlantic or transnational movement? How are both color-blind and color-conscious casting choices complicated by a change of place? How do celebrity and star-power inflect an actor’s or character’s perceived race, ethnicity, or national affiliation in different locales and contexts?


Please send 200-word abstracts and biographies to, and before 31 January 2017.


  1. The name of action: actors of Shakespeare and Shakespearean actors

Convener: Miranda F Thomas (Shakespeare’s Globe and University of Greenwich)


This seminar explores the acting techniques and the actors who have brought Shakespearean drama to life in Europe. It seeks to discuss the history and development of acting styles, methods and approaches from the early modern period to the present day. How do different actors, or acting styles, help to construct the way audiences view Shakespeare, his texts and his characters? Do certain acting styles or techniques help to illuminate Shakespeare’s plays to respective audiences – and how might different acting styles trap a Shakespearean text within a particular historical European theatrical context?

Papers may focus on particular actors such as Will Kempe, Richard Burbage, David Garrick, Tommaso Salvini, Sarah Bernhardt, Laurence Olivier, Paul Robeson, Adrian Lester and Judi Dench. We would also welcome papers which focus on more ‘non-elite’ performances, laboratory, touring and ensemble theatre practices rather than just institutions such as the RSC or Comédie-Française. Papers might also consider acting styles, incorporating voice and projection, accent, gesture, and movement, in addition to early modern theatrical practices such as the use of cue scripts, impersonation, and stock characters.

We invite papers on any of these topics, as well as ones which move beyond such questions, and seek responses which interrogate the very idea of the Shakespearean actor: who they were, who they are, and who they might be in the future.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to before 31 January 2017.


  1. Shakespeare and Music


Michelle Assay (Université de Paris Sorbonne, France/Canada/Iran)

David Fanning (University of Manchester, UK)

Christopher Wilson (University of Hull, UK)


‘If music be the food of love, play on’ (Twelfth Night, I/1/1)

Despite the fact that at least some Shakespeare-inspired music constitutes an important part of the concert repertoire, scholarship specifically dealing with Shakespeare and music is surprisingly under-developed. Studies in this area are far less numbered than, for example, those dealing with Shakespeare and film.

This seminar aims to approach the subject matter of Shakespeare and Music, from both aspects of music in Shakespeare’s time or on various aspects of music in Shakespeare’s works (including his musical imaging and imagination), and music inspired by Shakespeare’s works or composed either to Shakespearean themes or directly for Shakespeare plays: in short – Music in Shakespeare and Shakespeare in Music.

As John Stevens observed Shakespeare ‘inherited and enhanced a tradition of theatre music used not only for embellishment but in the delineation of character and with accepted symbolic associations.’ On the other hand, Shakespeare’s musical afterlives –works that found their inspiration in Shakespeare – not only contribute to a richer understanding and appreciation of the Bard’s works, but are often they works that can stand alone and act as gateways to the musical traditions and aesthetics of their time.

Possible threads for papers or lecture/recitals include but are not limited to:

  • Music imagery and imagination of Shakespeare
  • Original melodies for Shakespeare songs and their afterlives
  • Shakespeare and opera
  • Incidental music for Shakespeare productions: past and present
  • Analysis and contextualising of individual Shakespeare-inspired works
  • Setting Shakespeare’s words to music
  • Shakespeare in instrumental music
  • Shakespeare and film music
  • Role of Shakespeare in musical imagination and creative output of composers
  • Shakespeare and music nationalism
  • Shakespeare in non-classical music (jazz, musicals, pop)
  • Performing Shakespeare’s music
  • Afterlife of Shakespeare-inspired music


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. Shakespearean Drama and the Early Modern European Stage


Lukas Erne (University of Geneva)

Ton Hoenselaars (Utrecht University)


English itinerant players toured northern and central Europe from the 1580s well into the seventeenth century. Their repertories consisted of numerous plays from the London theatre, by Shakespeare and his London contemporaries. Dozens of the plays from the continental European theatre circuit with a direct connection to the London theatre world have survived. They include translations and adaptations of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy (in various forms), Thomas Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Thomas Dekker’s Old Fortunatus, as well as Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. Countless other continental texts – frequently in German or Dutch – are also of interest since they are based on the same source materials as Shakespearean drama (Soliman and Perseda, Old Fortunatus, The Beautiful Sidea [The Tempest], The Beautiful Phaenicia [Much Ado about Nothing], and Julius and Hippolyta [Two Gentlemen of Verona]).

Many of these plays have received modern reprints, and some have been translated (or back-translated) into English. Also, many of the documentary sources relating to this theatre activity have been made available. Nonetheless, awareness of these fascinating continental materials among Shakespeareans remains low.

The present ESRA conference meets in one of the prominent places where English players performed four centuries ago. Gdansk is, therefore, the ideal locus for a re-examination of the form and context in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries first reached northern and central Europe, and left valuable traces that may still teach us much about the plays and the theatrical cultures of which they were a part.

This seminar solicits papers about any aspect of Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists on the Continent, in early modern English, Latin, German, Dutch, or any other language. We welcome contributions devoted to the plays themselves, their relationship to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, their place within early modern continental European theatre, the companies that performed them, as well as the linguistic, theatrical, institutional, historical, and broader cultural circumstances in which they were produced. It is hoped that new theoretical approaches to theatre and performance, translation and adaptation, editing, and cultural exchange in a European context will lay the groundwork for an overdue revival of research interest.


Please send 250-300-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. He do Shakespeare in Different Voices: The use of Regional Accents and Dialects


Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University)

Domenico Lovascio (University of Genoa)


Shakespeare has helped shape English and has been translated into many European languages.  What happens, though, when he or his contemporaries are performed in dialect or in regional accents?  In England, Northern Broadsides deliberately eschew Received Pronunciation in favour of northern accents; in Italy, Cesare Deve Morire used Neapolitan rather than standard Italian.  Sometimes particular accents become synonymous with particular meanings or approaches, as with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s rooted conviction that a Scots accent is funny.  This seminar is interested in any production, film, or theatre company, in or from any European country, which (to paraphrase Pound’s proposed title for The Waste Land) does Shakespeare or any of his contemporaries in different voices.  Possible approaches may include (but are not limited to):

  • use of accent or dialect in a film or stage production of Shakespeare
  • use of accent or dialect in a film or stage production of any of Shakespeare’s contemporaries
  • comparison of approaches to Shakespeare with approaches to one or more of his contemporaries
  • use of a particular accent or dialect across several productions
  • particular companies which specialise in the use of dialect or accent, e.g. Northern Broadsides
  • political implications of the use of accent or dialect
  • is there such a thing as a non-accented production?
  • the relationship between Shakespeare and/or his contemporaries and the history of any particular accent or dialect


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.



  1. Magic through ritual objects and stage props: Early Modern practices and Modern adaptations


Pierre Kapitaniak (University of Montpellier)

Natalia Brzozowska (Kujawy and Pomorze University in Bydgoszcz)


Even the most sceptical theory of magic – confining all supernatural practices to the realm of imagination, delusion, and fraud – still has to account for the physical traces of magical activities from the past, such as the buried witch bottles that archaeologists still unearth in England or the United States. The panel will analyse Shakespeare’s and other contemporary playwrights’ plays and their use of such props in scenes of magical incantations, and other supernatural events. One way of approaching the subject could be the correspondence of stage props with magic folklore as found in contemporary pamphlets and treatises, confronting beliefs and representation. Another angle could be that of materiality of the stage practices using for instance Henslowe’s papers and studying the popularity and evolution of magical special effects and props on early modern London stages, but also during the Restoration period. An additional perspective could be to examine how such props and the beliefs associated with them are negotiated in modern adaptations of those plays in theatres and on screen. A sample of the range of various props may include wax images (The Witch), cauldrons (Macbeth, The Witch), a talking head (Friar Bungay), a wizard’s robes (Tempest), “a cloak to go invisible” (Henslowe’s diaries), ointments, philters, potions and various ingredients composing the witches’ brew as well as books and grimoires, and many others.


Please send 250-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. Shakespeare and the Politics of Location


Magdalena Cieślak (University of Łódź)

Francesca Rayner (Universidade do Minho)


Following the conference’s interest in discussing how Shakespeare is used in cross-cultural exchanges and negotiations, and acutely aware of the relevance of political approaches to Shakespeare in the context of the large number of diverse crises fragmenting and reconfiguring Europe at the moment, we wish to offer a seminar that would address the problems and questions related to politicising Shakespeare’s plays when adapted for theatre in specific geotemporal conditions. Some productions more than others focus on bringing out ambiguities and controversies in the areas of national, class or gender politics that Shakespeare’s plays abound in. We wish to invite papers which analyse productions set in very particular locations, times or environments with the purpose of highlighting those geotemporal and cultural specificities and their role in the making of political statements.

The seminar invites you to address such issues as:

– the choice of specific locations or times informs the approach to the text of the play;

– the choice of specific locations or times helps to (re)interpret nation, class, ethnicity or gender;

– updates and modernizations deal with specific cultural and political references of the plays;

– plots and themes of Shakespeare’s plays that are potentially nationalistic, racist, misogynist or otherwise “politically incorrect” are used to either challenge or foster contemporary prejudice;

– what ways Shakespearean productions may relate to contemporary social, political and economic practices;

– what ways Shakespearean productions may engage in various discourses concerning social, economic, ethnic and other inequalities;

– global versus (or alongside with?) local approaches facilitate attempts to engage with vital contemporary problems through Shakespeare.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. The influence of Shakespeare’s tragic dramatic approach on European thought on justice


Reina Brouwer (University of Leiden, Campus The Hague, The Netherlands)

Zsuzsánna Kiss (Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church Budapest)


Shakespearean tragedy has been thoroughly analysed and interpreted throughout the ages. However, recent years have shown a decline in interest for the quintessential message of (Shakespearean) tragedy. Partly due to the diversity of interpretations and appropriations of the tragic concept.

Our purpose is to address this issue anew, not for the sake of reproducing genre labels and/or interpretations, but in order to unearth the archaeology of Shakespeare’s tragic/dramatic approach in relation to the philosophy of poetic justice.

The latter term was coined by Thomas Rymer in his The Tragedies of the Last Age Considere’d  (1678), leaning heavily on the classical Grecian treatises that held that a tragedy should inspire moral behaviour by staging the just victory of arête (ethical, good) behaviour over morally unwanted conduct. Since then the concept has gone with the flow of literary fashions and movements; as has its meaning and content.


We would like to reintroduce this concept and approach it from a slightly different and more contemporary angle, the main question being: what might be the precise correlation between Shakespeare’s dramatic mastership and the development of our feeling of justice and the just in the Europe of today. Or, in a somewhat broader sense:  how exactly could Shakespearean dramatic aesthetics have been able to influence our thought on ethics. An unearthing of the archaeology of the process from poetical/dramatic beauty to legal justice as laid down in law (with the focus on contemporary European legislation) being aim and end here. This, of course, is partly a philosophical, partly an socio-cultural exercise. However, in Shakespeare the quintessence remains mainly poetical and dramaturgic. Therefore we believe this to be an exciting and enriching angle. Papers as well as annotated scripts of short theatrical real-time renderings and videos/vlogs (10 minutes max.) staging this thematic are welcomed.


Possible queries – however, others with the same thematic are welcomed – could be:

– How have Shakespeare’s sheer pulchritude of words and his poetic and dramatic mastership been able to influence our thought on justice. In another broader sense: how do his aesthetics and dramaturgy influence jurisprudence and the philosophy of law (emphasis on European law). Unearth archaeology and reception history. Approach either from a dramaturgic/poetical angle or from the ethical/philosophical one.

– How could the Shakespearean poetic justice best be described, looking at for instance the histories, the Roman plays and the Great Four (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth)?

– Did Shakespeare’s universal humanity (e.g. Merchant of Venice, King Lear, but other suggestions are welcomed) have any influence on European thought on human rights (e.g. the legislation concerning human rights, martial law etc.)?  You might also look at the correlation between Shakespeare’s universal humanity and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

– How is the tragic sense of individual and community crisis dramatically represented in Shakespeare’s tragedies? Does the sense of the tragic develop or change from one tragedy to another?

We would welcome papers (300 to 500 words) and scripts, videos of your presentations.


Please send 150-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


  1. Staging Utopias: Shakespeare in Print and Performance


Delilah Bermudez Brataas (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik (Wyższa Szkoła Europejska, Kraków, Poland)


Jill Dolan writes in Utopia in Performance (2010) that theatre potentially allows for utopian performatives, i.e. those moments in the performance that open up the audience to “a hopeful feeling of what the world might be like if every moment of our lives were as emotionally voluminous, generous, aesthetically striking and intersubjectively tense” (4) and “allow fleeting contact with a utopia not stabilized by its own finished perfection […] but a utopia always in process, always only partially grasped, as it disappears before us around the corners of narrative and social experience”(6). A utopian performative in this context is a moment of empowerment that gestures towards a vision of a better reality and reveals an ethical dimension of the play that has a potential transformative, if not political impact. This panel takes this proposition further, to investigate the presence of the utopian impulse in Shakespeare’s works in print and on stage. Whether that presence emerges as the influence of classical ideal spaces, the bourgeoning potential of the new world as a utopia, or the political ideologies inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) at the start of the Renaissance in England, visions of utopia appear in Shakespeare’s plays, to be further elaborated on, negotiated and modified in performance that can amplify the utopian impulse in its own utopian performative, or, alternatively, engage it in a dystopian fashion.

We seek papers that discuss the utopian impulse in Shakespeare’s works in print and on stage, and which in particular:

  • address “utopian performatives” in Shakespeare in performance
  • consider how Shakespeare’s works contributed to the development of utopia as a genre and/or the impact of utopian literature and criticism on Shakespeare in performance
  • analyse the way in which Shakespeare’s idealized presence as international social and cultural icon influence our contemporary understanding of utopian literature
  • examine the ways in which the utopian impulse has been created, staged and/or critically engaged in theatrical productions across the centuries and continents.

By bringing together critical reflection on theatre as a utopian space and the ways in which it is actively used in Shakespeare in performance the panel should chart the territory that, with the notable exception of The Tempest, still remains relatively unexplored.


Please send 300-400-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.


19. Shakespeare in performance in digital media


Urszula Kizelbach (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)

Imke Lichterfeld (University of Bonn)


“Shakespeare’s imagination worked by restless, open-ended appropriation, adaptation and transformation” (Greenblatt 2009: 76), which rendered his plays open to metamorphosis and reinterpretation. Shakespeare and his works are present on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr in the form of “events”, “memes”, and “posts”. We can listen to shows on the radio and hear lectures on Shakespearean drama in the form of podcasts offered by academics, or take online courses on e-learning platforms including videos. National Theatre Live broadcasts of Shakespeare’s plays in performance lure thousands of younger and senior generations to theatres and cinemas. It is enough to mention the transmissions of Robin Lough’s Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican (2015) or Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston (2014) staged at the Donmar Warehouse to engage students.

We are seeking paper proposals for a seminar discussion based on the following aspects: what is the role of digital media and digital humanities in providing a reliable narration on Shakespeare’s plays? How might their function have changed as new forms of theatrical adaptability and media representation have emerged since Shakespeare’s time?

For our seminar, we seek proposals from graduate students and scholars. We are especially interested in (recent) Shakespearean stage productions and adaptations involving live theatre broadcasting, social media and digital media/the Internet. It will be interesting to discuss how Shakespeare’s plays are viewed in today’s highly technological and digitalized world. We invite speakers to share their ideas on digital humanities as a way of reflecting the changing mobility of discourses and aesthetics for the future, and whether the audience reception of the performance change with the malleability of the electronic medium (the Internet, the radio, live streaming, etc.).


Please send 200-300-word abstracts and biographies to and before 31 January 2017.