Fargo Shakespeare Month

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.519  Tuesday, 3 November 2015


From:        Verena Theile <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         November 3, 2015 at 11:03:33 AM EST

Subject:    Fargo Shakespeare Month


Fargo, ND is hosting a community-wide celebration of Shakespeare during the month of February, 2016: www.winterartsfest.org


ShakespeareFest 2016 in FARGO ND


During the festival, artists of all disciplines will create and present work inspired by the festival’s celebrated artist, William Shakespeare. The WinterArts Festival is much more than an arts event. It turns the perceived injustice of our long, dark winter into a point of pride and participation for the whole community. It’s a unique opportunity for artists to engage with each other in the spirit of collaboration and to challenge each other artistically. Visit our the event-website (www.winterartsfest.org) to see all of the performances, concerts, happy hours, talks, readings, lectures, and other experiences that our creative community has planned. Plenary speakers include Douglas Lanier (University of New Hampshire) and Jennifer Roberts-Smith (University of Waterloo). 



CFP for edited collection, Contending with Shakespeare through Adaptation


Chapter proposals are invited for a collection of essays that will explore Shakespearean adaptations as statements, often assertions about the nature of the work they engage. That adaptations have contributed to Shakespeare’s afterlife cannot be disputed. They are re-imaginings of his work in a new context and against a new medium, and, as such, adaptations of Shakespeare are derivative and unique at the same time. With that premise in mind, the history of Shakespeare in adaptation may also uncover the history of assumptions about what Shakespeare constitutes–as a playwright, poet, cultural icon, or otherwise. 


The collection we envision will take up adaptations and appropriations with a focus on what these new products reveal about Shakespeare’s parameters or limits. Accordingly, we seek essays that explore cases of appropriation that help bring these limitations to light and confront the implications of transposing Shakespeare to a particular situation or audience. Essays might consider, for example, unexpected failures in appropriation; critically controversial productions or editions; adaptations that explicitly address conflicts in Shakespeare’s reception; or any other instance where a particular appropriation of Shakespeare helped draw attention to unexamined preconceptions of his literary or cultural stature. 


Please submit enquiries, chapter proposals (500 words), or drafts of essays (7,500 words) to the editors Verena Theile (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Adam Kitzes This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by December 1, 2016


Verena Theile

Associate Professor of English

Dean's Fellow/College of AHSS




Shakespeare's Sonnets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.518  Monday, 2 November 2015


[1] From:        Peter T Hadorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 27, 2015 at 2:46:03 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets 


[2] From:        Jim Carroll <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 28, 2015 at 11:45:38 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets 


[3] From:        Sidney Lubow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 27, 2015 at 12:40:25 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re SHAKSPER Sonnets 




From:        Peter T Hadorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 27, 2015 at 2:46:03 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Sonnets


I’m afraid I have allowed myself to be goaded into responding to some of the exchanges that have occurred regarding my post about Shakespeare’s sonnets.  I was hoping I might have received some more serious responses regarding my question: why in the sonnets will Shakespeare sometimes embed language of a sexual nature in a sonnet whose primary theme is of a non-sexual nature?  I previously gave three examples, from “R&J,” “MM”, and sonnet 50.  Let’s deal with the responses that I have received one at a time.  By the way, I learned of each of those examples from academic sources, with the exception of what I found in 50, which I found myself.  But a check of Pequigney found that he saw the same thing.


1.  That the sexual language does not exist.


Let’s start with this passage from “Henry V,” 2.2, the traitor scene:


“My Lord of Cambridge, and my kind Lord of Masham,

And you, my gentle knight, give me your thoughts.

Think you not that the pow’rs we bear with us

Will CUT their passage through the force of France,

Doing the EXECUTION and the act

For which we have in HEAD assembled them?”


Notice the capitalized words.  When I teach this play, I suggest that Henry was probably conscious of his using these words and his intent was to make the hairs stand up on the back of the necks of the traitors.


Now let’s turn to Sonnet 60:


Like as the waves make towards the pibled shore,

So do our minuites hasten to their end,

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toile all forwards do contend.

Nativity once in the maine of light,

Crawles to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,

Crooked eclipses gainst his glory fight,

And time that gave, doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfixe the florish set on youth,

And delves the paralels in beauties brow,

Feedes on the rarities of natures truth,

And nothing stands but for his sieth to mow.

And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand

Praising thy worth, dispight his cruell hand.


When we take this quatrain by quatrain, my students, without prompting, will see in the second quatrain language that suggests Christ: Nativity, being crowned, glory, and even transfix in the next line that has an echo of crucifixion.


So the question now is: are we imagining things or did Shakespeare intentionally employ words that evoke other matters besides the main?  If we agree that they are intentional, then why can we not say the same things about sexual language?  Read Booth’s “An Essay on Shakespeare’s Sonnets” and Vendler’s introduction to her “The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets” on how to read these deeply complex and sophisticated poems.  Frankly, refusing to see the bawdy language in these works suggests a combination of lack of training, bardolatry, and Puritanism.


2. These sonnets trace actual relationships that Shakespeare had.  


The only problem is: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE to answer this question definitively one way or the other. Read—and study the literature on—Petrarch’s, Sidney’s, and Spenser’s sonnets for comparison.  Yes, to be sure, elements of these poets’ lives are woven into their sonnets, a practice I find really interesting, but, ultimately, their personae are literary constructs.  This practice goes back to as far as we have poetry (see, for examples, the works of Ovid and Catullus).  We know that Petrarch was constantly revising his sonnets for decades.  We can’t even be sure that Laura existed.  And should we consider the picture that Chaucer presents of himself in “The General Prologue” to be an accurate representation?  Or of Wyatt in his poems?  A more relevant treatment of this subject can be found regarding Spenser’s “Amoretti” in Andrew Hadfield’s new biography.  His poor wives had to deal with having for a husband a poet who insisted on putting them into his literary works.


And so this raises a really good question: if Shakespeare’s sonnets are literary constructs, why didn’t he just write about a traditional male/female relationship?  This is one of the aspects of the sonnets I am currently working on, but for me it has to do with the fact that Shakespeare is really interested in matters of gender, especially, gender confusion/creation: See especially “12N,” “V&A,” and “Lucrece.”


Regarding the Earl of Southampton.  For a quick treatment of the subject, I suggest readers look at what Colin Burrow has to say in his introduction to his edition of Shakespeare’s poetry.  Shakespeare was by no means the only poet to dedicate works to Southampton.  When the poor boy ended up broke, they—including, apparently, Shakespeare—abandoned him.  Until Mr. Peabody invents the way-back machine, we will otherwise never know for sure if there was any more to it than Shakespeare wanting some financial return.  Frankly, I'm surprised the dedication to the sonnets hasn't crumbled to dust with all the weight that has been placed on it.


My quick take on the sonnets?  I think many though not all of the DL sonnets were written early, perhaps in the mid-1590s.  The YM sonnets which I find to be much more sophisticated I would date later, probably through 1600s.  I see no reason to doubt that Shakespeare was constantly revising them.  And I see too many parallels with 12N, Ham, AWEW, Oth, even KL (and others) to not see them as being written and/or revised later.  For me, the question is not so much what they are about—they’re about a lot!—but HOW they do what they do.  For me, a “Lover’s Complaint” supports reading “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” as a literary construct—the echoing of ideation throughout is mind-boggling!


So, back to my earlier question: why would Shakespeare embed bawdy language into poems that have a more serious main theme?  Please, no psychoanalytic suggestions: Shakespeare didn’t read Freud.  As I said before, I take these to be literary constructs, not real love letters.  I just know I’m going to regret this posting!


PS: I, too, am sorry to learn of the passing of Professor Jardine.  She was one of my heroes.





From:        Jim Carroll <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 28, 2015 at 11:45:38 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


Ian Steere imagines he saw a sexual pun or double entendre involving the word “key” in one of Marlowe’s plays, and that makes him believe that the same word must have the same meaning in one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (52). Now he imagines he sees the same meaning in one of Sidney’s sonnets, also reinforcing his belief that “key” has some sexual meaning. What possible purpose would any of these supposed puns or double entendre’s have in the context of these poems? 


Shakespeare wrote (sonnet 52):


So am I as the rich, whose blessed key

Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,

The which he will not every hour survey,

For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.


In other words: I don’t get to see you very much, so I am like a wealthy man who does not look at his treasure every day, because the pleasure would be dulled by looking at it too often. What possible sexual meaning for “key” would make sense there?


Here is part of Sidney's sonnet 79:


Sweet kiss....

A double key, which opens to the heart,

Most rich when most riches it impart.


In other words: a kiss is a double key (because we each have two lips) which opens to the heart, and is most satisfying when it gives the most. Again, what possible sexual meaning of “key” would fit here? Simply listing random occurrences of possible sexual meanings of words may be great fun for some, but they have little or no relevance unless the meaning can be tied to the meaning of the poem. All of these supposed double-entendres are reminiscent of the “secret ciphers” in Shakespeare’s works that alternative-author cranks have been churning out since the 19th century in that none of them are believable.


Jim Carroll



From:        Sidney Lubow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 27, 2015 at 12:40:25 PM EDT

Subject:    Re SHAKSPER Sonnets


Peter T Hadorn wrote:


So far, the best that I can come up with is that Shakespeare is playing with his reader, showing us what language can do in whipping us back and forth in our attempts to interpret the poem.  Or, if we take the speaker as a created persona, perhaps the persona is unconsciously embedding language that reveals his most personal desires.


Peter, I have been trying to tell the group that the Sonnets were written by a teenager who acted as a new Narcissus in love with himself, his alter ego in his mirror, the “child” of sonnet 17.13 born in the couplet of the 18th sonnet.  This was the same young man who had not yet started to shave, who appeared in A Lover’s Complaint in lines 97-2, “Small show of man was yet upon his chin, / His phoenix down began but to appear.”  You MUST realize that the youth had yet to write his plays or his other major poetry, something that scholar, Sir Brian Vickers and many others who criticize ALC as “non- Shakespearian” which displays a lack of awareness and respect for the bard’s immaturity when he wrote the Sonnets. Some have denied that Shakespeare wrote ALC. Pity.


Peter, I suggest that you read what I have sent a few times to SHAKSPER, my take of the story of the Sonnets. Have your students study ALC and learn for themselves what has been said. It is your task to stimulate them, to add or detract from a thesis that ALC is the prologue of the Sonnets, a poem that appeared in back of the Sonnets in 1609 but was referred to a decade earlier by Francis Meres as the bard’s “sugar’d sonnets”. 


You must realize that the Sonnets, a wet dream suggested by the bard himself in line 40 of ALC, who has seduced the ‘fickle maid’, a Muse who is in deep despair over her poignant fear of pregnancy, one she can hardly explain to Apollo when she, the Passionate Pilgrim, will tearfully return to Paradise. She tells us in ALC lines 300-1,


“All meltling, though our drops this difference bore,  

His poison'd me, and mine did him restore."  


Shakespeare asks the “babe”, the alter ego he loves in sonnet 22.8, “How can I then be elder than thou art?”     


You are right, in this wet dream, Peter, “Shakespeare was playing with his reader.” 


I must add that Woody Allen was also right when he narcissistically, said,  “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”


Sid Lubow




Tom Berger

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.517  Monday, 2 November 2015


From:        Marga Munkelt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         November 1, 2015 at 12:42:30 PM EST

Subject:    Tom Berger


I am very distressed by Tom Berger’s death. I have not only admired his scholarship but also enjoyed his inventiveness and sense of humor. I believe that the Malone Dance concluding the annual SAA meetings was his brainchild. He was such fun to be with.


Marga Munkelt




Hamlet Globe to Globe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.516  Monday, 2 November 2015


From:        Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 29, 2015 at 8:53:41 PM EDT

Subject:    Hamlet Globe to Globe


Jasper Rees has an entertaining writeup of the Shakespeare’s Globe’s two-year “Hamlet Globe to Globe” tour in the latest issue of The Economist’s Intelligent Life (http://intelligentlifemagazine.com/features/all-the-worlds-a-stage).  Suitably exotic selections below.  BTW they used Dominic Dromgoole’s 90-minute adaptation of Hamlet Q1 (“rather than the lapidary First Folio text”), performed in English with native-language intros and outros.


...Emeruwa posts a snap of every venue on Instagram. His album includes many formal theatres, but also spanking new cultural centres (Kazakhstan, Egypt), amphitheatres, cathedrals (outside one in Mexico, inside in Tunisia), school halls, a castle (Czech Republic), a field (Benin), a library (the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC) and outdoor arenas. In Khartoum they played to an audience of 3,000, with another 2,000 locked out. In Wittenberg, Hamlet’s university town, no more than 40 turned up for what the company is united in regarding as the tour’s dampest squib. They have performed at sea level, looking out on the Pacific Ocean in Antofagasta and the Indian Ocean in Djibouti, and at extreme altitude: in La Paz oxygen was on tap backstage. They have often felt the dread weight of recent history: in Sarajevo, in Eritrea, in Kiev where Petro Poroshenko was in the house the night before he was elected Ukraine’s new president. In Somaliland no play at all had been performed for more than 20 years. Leong talks of the responsibility of “going to so many places where people’s idea of what it’s like to see a play rests entirely on that one performance”. Above all the company speak about an epiphany at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. After two scenes, the power failed and the audience waited while stage managers and cast rapidly shifted the set outside. The heat was intense, but so was the spell cast by the occasion. “Part of the high”, says Paratene, “was the knowledge that we were performing on a campus where murder had been committed.”...


After the cast [in Kasane, Zimbabwe] have performed their rousing musical outro and taken the hearty applause, I talk to two polite 16-year-old girls in green uniform whose school party has come from Kachikau, 60km away. Both are seeing Shakespeare live for the first time. Their own drama classes, they say, focus on child abuse, teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse, and they warm to a story about ghosts and vengeance. “Speaking fast it’s hard for us Africans to learn their language,” says Likezo, whose first language is Subiya. “Some words I understand, others not. But at the end I understood what is their message.” The message taken by Annastacia (first language: Kalanga) has an African slant: “In our culture,” she says, “when somebody marries his brother’s wife this is dangerous because children end up doing mistakes in life. Our parents should not do that because it affects our life. When Hamlet tried to talk to his mother his mother didn’t listen to him and this ended up causing him to kill himself.”


Thus the tragedy of Hamlet, unfathomable as all the globe’s oceans, yields up yet another story.



Al Magary




Francis Yates CFP: A Celebration of Her Life and Work

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.515  Monday, 2 November 2015


From:        Paul Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 30, 2015 at 2:25:19 PM EDT

Subject:    Francis Yates CFP: A Celebration of Her Life and Work










The great Renaissance and Shakespeare scholar Frances Yates lived for over half a century at Claygate, near Kingston-upon-Thames, and to mark the 50th anniversary of her book The Art of Memory, Kingston Shakespeare Seminar will host a one-day conference on her life and work at the Rose: a playhouse inspired by her theory of the ‘theatre of the world’. Close to where Yates wrote her books, participants will be asked to evaluate their current significance, and to reflect on her ideas about Europe, empire, occult philosophy, academies, architecture, memory, performance, intellectual history, and the place of a scholarly community in the modern world.


Proposals are invited for 25-minute papers that address these or other aspects of the life and career of Frances Yates. Submissions should be made by February 1 2016 to:


Professor Richard Wilson,

The Rose Theatre, 

24-6 High Street, 

Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 1HL




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