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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Shakespeare and History Conference: Fairleigh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0559  Tuesday, 28 August 2007

From: 		Harry Keyishian <
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Date: 		Saturday, 25 Aug 2007 14:31:57 -0400
Subject: 	Shakespeare and History Conference: Fairleigh Dickinson University

"Shakespeare and History" at Fairleigh Dickinson University, October 20 2007

A day-long program on the topic Shakespeare and History will take place 
at the Madison, NJ campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University on Saturday, 
October 20 from 9:30-3:30.  Speakers will be Thomas Cartelli (Muhlenberg 
College), Lawrence Danson (Princeton University), Naomi Conn Liebler ( 
Montclair State University), and Phyllis Rackin (University of 
Pennsylvania). The program is organized by Harry Keyishian (Fairleigh 
Dickinson University).

This is the fifteenth annual Shakespeare Colloquium at Fairleigh 
Dickinson University. The program is free and open to the public.

The location is Room S-11 (Science Building) at the university's Madison 
NJ campus. For directions, see http://view.fdu.edu/default.aspx?id=885. 
To register or request further information, contact 
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 .

Conference program:

Lawrence Danson (Princeton University):
"'Time Goes in Diverse Paces':  History and Drama in Shakespeare"

Long time, short time, fast time, slow time; time the destroyer, time 
the redeemer; people's time, God's time.  Dr. Danson will look at some 
of the ways Shakespeare's history plays (and plays about history) 
dramatize his truism that "Time goes in diverse paces." The "times" he 
will consider include the vast sweep of history as well as the daily 
treadmill of one-damn-thing-after-another. Time is for Shakespeare not 
only the subject of history but the medium of drama; so Dr. Danson will 
think about the way the plays enact time as the actual medium of the two 
(or three) hour's traffic of the stage.

Thomas Cartelli (Muhlenberg College)
"The Breath of Kings": Brittle Glory and Naked Ambition in Shakespeare's 
*Richard II*

Early on in Shakespeare's *Richard II*, as Richard is about to bid 
farewell to his powerful antagonist, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of 
Hereford, one of many of Richard's apparent acts of whimsy, in this case 
his sudden abbreviation of Bolingbroke's exile from ten to six years, 
evokes the following response from the exiled Duke:

How long a time lies in one little word!
Four lagging winters and four wanton springs
End in a word; such is the breath of kings.
(1.3.213-15)

Bolingbroke's last line has evoked comparatively little commentary from 
scholars and directors. But it delivers a crucial insight into 
Bolingbroke's motivations that may radically reorient a long-established 
understanding of the play, which tends to minimize Bolingbroke's naked 
display of ambition while effectively holding Richard culpable for his 
own deposition. To produce the kind of reading I will pursue here may 
well require the kind of "imaginary audition" Harry Berger sees as 
divorced from stage practice, premised as it is on a practice of close 
reading which concentrates the mind on moments of suspended "text" whose 
implications we tease out and repeatedly rewind. But it also depends on 
seeing the play as deeply enmeshed in the conventions of contemporary 
stage practice, and verbally and dramatically responsive to a host of 
influential pre-texts and stage-precedents, chief among which I would 
count both the plays and dramaturgy of Marlowe (in this instance 
*Tamburlaine *and *Doctor Faustus *as much as the obvious pre-text, 
*Edward II*) and the anonymous *Woodstock,*which, however much it may 
anachronistically exhaust characters who rise to live again in *Richard 
II*, literally supplies much of this play's subtext, the lack of 
acquaintance with which may well bewilder the neophyte reader/viewer of 
Shakespeare's play. Once we put *Richard II* back into conversation with 
its pre-texts and defining conventions, we may also better understand 
why Sir John Hayward felt compelled to retell the "story" of Richard and 
Henry IV in non-dramatic terms at the turn of the century, what the Earl 
of Essex thought his supporters would get out of a private staging of 
this or another play focused on this matter, and what could have 
prompted Queen Elizabeth to comment, "Know you not that I am Richard 
II," in response to such doings.

LUNCH BREAK

Naomi Liebler
"Time's Doting Chronicles" (*2 Henry IV*, 4.4.126):  Shakespeare's 
Geezers, Politics, and Nostalgia."

The marking and remarking of time is one of the most consistent *topoi* 
in the western canon, let alone in Shakespeare; anxieties of aging 
persist even against memorial reconstructions (memory and nostalgia) 
invoked to draw out time present. The two justices of *2 Henry IV*, 
Shallow and Silence, are what Hamlet never intended by his reference to 
the players as "abstract and brief chronicles." As one quarter of the 
Second Tetralogy, *2 Henry IV* is particularly concerned with time as 
succession; it acknowledges amends to be made for breaching Richard's 
lineage. In the middle of this consideration of time as a national 
crisis, Shakespeare pauses to reflect on its passage as a concern more 
personally focused: two old men, representatives of law in the lives of 
ordinary folk, reminisce.  Their exchange occupies the central space of 
the play (3.2) and thus seems to be central to Shakespeare's interests 
in this work. I want to consider these old men not as placebos of "comic 
relief" but as metonymies for such loftier concerns as right rule, 
succession, redemption--the relegation of those matters to an 
irrecoverable past, to the nostalgia of *ubi sunt*,-and thus as a 
serious meta-commentary on the Tudor Myth.

Phyllis Rackin
"Shakespeare's Earliest History Plays"

Although Shakespeare's *Henry VI* plays have suffered a long history of 
neglect and disfavor, they were apparently popular in their own time, 
and recent performances have shown that they still appeal to audiences 
in the theater.  This paper examines and challenges the arguments that 
are customarily given for the supposed inferiority of those plays.  In 
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, readers and playgoers preferred 
the patriotic rhetoric and triumphant conclusions of the later history 
plays.  But now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when that 
rhetoric and those conclusions no longer seem so convincing, the first 
history plays Shakespeare wrote may well be due for a major revival.

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