The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.150 Monday, 23 March 2015
Date: March 21, 2015 at 11:33:37 AM EDT
Subject: Conference on Shakespeare’s Kings
Washington & Lee University is offering an alumni college, open to all, on “Shakespeare’s Kings.” It takes place July 12-17. The registration fee of $795 includes 10 meals, and the option of free housing on campus. It will include lectures every morning, with other activities and entertainment in the afternoon and evening. There will be daily lectures by Ralph Cohen (founder of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA) and by W&L Ballangee Professor of English, Marc C. Conner. Professor Conner has created a terrific Teaching Company Course, “How to Read and Understand Shakespeare.”
Here is their website’s description of the program—
William Shakespeare flourished under the reigns of Elizabeth and James, for each monarch was a great patron of the theater. It is no surprise, then, that Shakespeare became the great imaginative chronicler of the English monarchy, as kingship became a profound source of inspiration for him and a vexing problem upon which he turned his limitless imagination. Beginning with perhaps his very first play in the early 1590s, he dramatized and anatomized the great kings and queens of English history, attempting not merely to render their historic lives on the stage, but also to probe what it means to be a king, how the king’s private life influences and even defines his public life, and what happens when the king is found unworthy of the crown. Shakespeare’s plays constitute as profound an engagement with the concept of kingship as any political or historical treatise ever penned.
In this program, we’ll examine three of Shakespeare’s most famous and most powerful depictions of kingship. In Henry IV, Part 1, we’ll see how the madcap Prince Hal evolves from a rascal thief into the very model of a Christian king-and yet what this transformation will cost Hal as a man, a son, and a ruler. In the figure of Falstaff, Shakespeare’s greatest comic creation, we’ll see both the spirit of joy and revelry that so attracts Hal, but also the “devil” who will tempt the young prince from his responsibilities- what Hal calls “the debt I never promised.” In Macbeth, we’ll see how Macbeth descends from faithful hero and obedient subject to King Duncan into a traitor and regicide as he embraces the ambition urged on him by his remarkable wife. Yet even as we are appalled at Macbeth’s cruelty and violence, we cannot help but be moved by his fierce pride, his indomitable will, and most of all by his magnificent poetry. Finally, in Antony and Cleopatra, we’ll meet a man who must choose between his earthly ambition and political responsibility on the one hand and, on the other, a love that cannot be contained by all the earth can offer. And in the remarkable figure of Cleopatra, we’ll see a monarch who, like Shakespeare’s own Queen Elizabeth I, could use her intellect, sexuality, and political savvy to hold at bay even the greatest rulers of the world. This program promises to engage not just three of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, but also the most profound questions of history, politics, and human destiny posed by the European Renaissance.
Faculty will include Marc Conner, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee 250th Anniversary Professor of English and associate provost; Holly Pickett, associate professor of English; and Ralph Cohen, retired professor of English at James Madison University and co-founder of the American Shakespeare Center.
Richard M. Waugaman, M.D.
Training & Supervising Analyst Emeritus, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Faculty Expert on Shakespeare for Media Contacts, Georgetown University