From TLS - 'Cultural Studies'

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.353  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 2:59:36 PM EDT

Subject:    From TLS - 'Cultural Studies'


[Editor’s Note: I have been catching up on TLS and discovered a number of Shakespeare –related articles. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]


Cultural Studies


1 July 2015


Patricia Lennox and Bella Mirabella, editors


312pp. Bloomsbury. £65.

978 1 4725 2507 9


A modest inventory of the costumes of the Admiral’s Men in 1602 included fourteen cloaks, thirteen gowns, fifteen antic suits and ten pairs of hose. Perhaps some actors wore their own clothes on stage. Four hundred years later, the Royal Shakespeare Company employs twenty-eight workers in its costume workshops, has replaced zips and Velcro with industrial strength magnets, and mixes up its own mud to distress boots and shoes. Shakespeare and Costume traces the art and business of dress from early modern theatre to Hollywood cinema, and from the visual construction of oriental masculinity to the archaeological findings at the Rose theatre.


The collection is strongest on early modern material. Two substantial essays by Catherine Richardson and Natasha Korda each bring together thing theory, social history, and an awareness of performance in an exemplary critical dialogue. Richardson’s focus is clothing in Shakespeare’s bourgeois comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. She traces the visual economy of the play’s shaming narratives, drawing on church courts, conduct literature and its literal dirty linen – the laundry basket of inner garments into which the would-be seducer Falstaff is stuffed. Korda notices how many stage directions emphasize expressive foot movements such as standing, stamping or, in Richard Brome’s Court Begger, “practise footing”, and suggests that dramatic character was grounded in actors’ footwork. Elaborate performance shoes and stockings in a range of colours added to this effect.



Essays on more modern sumptuary topics are enjoyably well informed, though tend only to gesture towards a larger thesis. Russell Jackson considers the plausibility of Rosalind’s male disguise in a series of As You Like Its, including Katharine Hepburn’s “elegant leg” in New York in 1950 and Eileen Atkins’s “immaculately tailored pantsuit and a bandanna” in Stratford in 1973. Kate Dorney reviews prisoner-of-war production costumes, including sketches by the cartoonist Ronald Searle. Surveying the starched headdress across a number of representations of Juliet’s Nurse, Patricia Lennox traces how this iconic look symbolizes the power of early women stage designers in the twentieth-century theatre. The book ends with interviews with two contemporary designers. These are a little flat, although Robert Morgan’s observation that “it is very tough to find modern equivalents to traditional historical dress that you can mute so as not to appear merely clever” is a fascinating insight.


Review: Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.352  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 28, 2015 at 4:25:03 PM EDT

Subject:    Review: Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe


[Editor’s Note: The following review is from The Independent. –Hardy]



Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe, review: The journey from unfeeling monarch to frightened human being pierces the heart

Wednesday 29 JULY 2015


Simon Godwin’s lucid and compelling production begins with its own added prologue. The 10-year-old Richard is anointed and crowned with solemn pomp and circumstance on Paul Wills’s spectacularly gilded set, with its cross-shaped fore-stage. The Archbishop of Canterbury declares in the exact words later used by the monarch that “Not all the waters in the rough, rude sea/ Can wash the balm off from an anointed king”. In a swirl of gold confetti, the boy is replaced by the adult Richard, identically dressed in a rich ivory coat, who assumes the Gothic throne and archly tosses his own mini-shower of the celebratory stuff over himself.


Without in any way sentimentalising what follows, this opening ritual makes you appreciate more fully the damaging effects of being brought up, from childhood, to believe that your power is God-given and unassailable. It also helps to underline how, in the deposition scene, Richard upstages Bolingbroke by asserting his sole right to conduct a pointed coronation ceremony in reverse (“With mine own tears I wash away my balm”) when he hands him the crown.


Charles Edwards’s excellent Richard seems to swan around in a micro-climate of snooty entitlement. When harangued by the older generation for letting the country go to rack and ruin, he adopts the air of someone trying to keep patience with fools from another species. Don’t they know he’s allowed to do what he likes? Often cast in debonair roles, the actor portrays the king as effete but not effeminate and brings a lovely light touch to the black comedy of Richard’s blithe self-centredness. His mouth gives a little musing, aesthetic quiver as if he is considering what colour of fabric to choose, rather than the number of years to pluck away from Bolingbroke’s banishment.  David Sturzaker is a passionate, enigmatic usurper who keeps you guessing about whether Bolingbroke returns to England with a long-term strategy of seizing more than just his hereditary rights.


[ . . . ]





Henry V in Original Pronunciation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.351  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 29, 2015 at 8:20:36 PM EDT

Subject:    Henry V in Original Pronunciation


Henry V in Original Pronunciation

Ben Crystal - Passion in Practice

Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 20:00 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 22:00 (BST)

London, United Kingdom


Henry V - in Original Pronunciation


Fresh from a staged reading at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe; Ben Crystal brings his Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble back to the Loft at Tanner Street.


Join us for the full production performance of Henry V in Original Pronunciation


Performance time: 8 O'Clock - Runtine 2 hours

Watch a 10 minute intro to OP here



Ben Crystal - Passion in Practice


Ben is the artistic director of Passion in Practice and was the co-writer of Shakespeare’s Words (Penguin 2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) with his father David Crystal. His first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast – Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) was shortlisted for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award.



A quartet series for Arden Shakespeare / Bloomsbury - Springboard Shakespeare was published June 2013, You Say Potato: A Book about Accents September 2014, and An Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare was published April 2015 with OUP.


MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.350  Tuesday, 28 July 2015


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

     Date:         July 27, 2015 at 4:44:18 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog 


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

     Date:         July 28, 2015 at 1:08:53 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 




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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 4:44:18 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog


To Maria Bonomi:


I think you have misunderstood Professor Strier. His last examples, which you quoted, involved other Jews, not Shylock. When he says “going home with nothing [which is what these other Jews do] is a lot better than Shylock does. Mercy me!”, he does reference Shylock’s forced conversion both as a difference from these other Jews and as an example of a lack of mercy.


I particularly enjoyed your comment: “But certainly the forced conversions from Catholic to Protestant to Catholic and again back to Protestant that marked the preceding decades would resonate with them.”


I believe that this is exactly one of Shakespeare’s points on the Current Events/Political/Religious dimension of meaning. On this level, one can see Shylock as representing, say, the Catholics, and the Duke and Antonio representing the Protestants, or vice versa. The laws that Elizabeth and her advisors caused to be enacted effectively forced Catholics to convert to the Church of England or face harsh penalties. Nothing so dramatic as “you must convert right this instant or be executed,” but intense pressure all the same.

I do not believe that Shakespeare wrote Shylock as a Jew, but that is a topic of conversation that I intend to take up later.


To Pervez Rizvi:

I had not intended my example of one of the play’s contradictions to result in a discussion of the Trial Scene. That discussion will come later. However, you have raised some interesting points that I would like to address briefly now.


Portia is not simply “applying a literal reading of the bond.” That is what happened in Shakespeare’s source, Il Pecorone. However, Shakespeare knew that such an argument would not be acceptable in an English court (where the trial is taking place), so he codified this argument into a statute. Consequently, Portia was not construing a contract but rather applying the express terms of a statute (that Shakespeare invented). 

Your point about Shylock committing a criminal offense is right on. His attempt to do so would have been apparent on the face of any pleading that he would have had to file with either the Court of Common Pleas or the Court in Chancery. Those courts would have refused to accept his petition.

However, Shylock could have filed a Bill in the Court of Queen’s Bench without mentioning the pound of flesh but instead alleging that Antonio had committed a trespass against him in the County of Middlesex, which was the county in which the Court of Queen’s Bench was located. This sort of pleading would result in Antonio’s arrest and imprisonment. 

By being in the custody of the prison’s warden, Antonio qualified for jurisdiction by the Court of Queen’s Bench. This Court did not have jurisdiction of lawsuits between citizens, but only lawsuits involving the Crown. Trespass was considered a criminal offense and thus a breach of the Queen’s peace, which did involve the Crown.

With Antonio now before the Court of Queen’s Bench, Shylock could later amend his pleading to eliminate the bogus charge of trespass and replace it with his real cause of action. This sort of legal fiction was called a Bill of Middlesex. It is one more example that Shakespeare provides in the play of appearances being deceiving, of the “outward shows” being “least themselves.”

By the way, I believe that Portia’s court is in London, not in Venice. Indeed, the Venice of the play is really London. (John sort of disagrees with me, believing that Venice is Venice but that Shakespeare used recognizably English legal matters for the benefit of the English audiences.) I contend that Shakespeare needed to disguise what he was doing in the play in order to get it approved for production by the Master of Revels; hence, Venice was London, Christians were Catholics, and Jews were Protestants.




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

Date:         July 28, 2015 at 1:08:53 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog


I am grateful for Perez Rizvi’s comments on the contract in the play, though I do not agree that (in the play) Shylock would be committing a criminal act in enforcing his contract.  No one raises this issue.  Everyone seems—however odd this may seem—to accept the validity of the contract at face value.  If the contract was perfectly legally acceptable, then the penalty clause was as well.  Portia needs to dig up some laws that, apparently, no one has ever heard of before in order to criminalize the penalty clause.  The first of these (only referred to) apparently refers in a very confusing way to “Christian blood,” which seems to imply that it applies only to non-Christians.  The second, read in detail and also unknown to everyone prior to this moment, specifies that it does indeed apply only to “aliens” (a designation not clearly applicable to Shylock, but conveniently taken to do so), and suddenly the issue of attempted murder is raised.  But, again, no one read the penalty clause in this way until Portia produced these unknown laws.


On the matter of Shylock’s punishment. I am afraid that Mari Bonomi seriously misreads my remarks.  My point was/is that IN SHAKESPEARE’S SOURCES, nothing is done to the Jew other than his contract being declared void, so he gets nothing.  This is true of the Italian story (Il Pecorone) that is normally taken as Shakespeare’s direct source.  The further punishments—confiscation of a large portion (or all—it’s ambiguous) of his estate; his inability to appoint his own heir(s); and, of course, the forced conversion (on pain of death) are entirely Shakespeare’s inventions.  In other words, to be perfectly plain, the Jew in Shakespeare’s version of the “drop of blood” story is treated much worse than in any other version that we have.





Re: Critical Survey: Special issue on Shakespeare and War

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.349  Tuesday, 28 July 2015


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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 6:27:16 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Critical Survey: Special issue on Shakespeare and War


As the author of the CFP for Critical Survey for a special issue on “Shakespeare and War,” I want to assure Larry Weiss, as well as other readers of, that I would welcome essays sympathetic to conservative principles, as well as progressive, and contributions critical of the “East,” so to speak, as well as the “West.” As I myself asked, for example, after a recent panel at the SAA, “If Bush was Henry V, is Obama Henry VI?” In all seriousness, though, I do want to be clear: I am open to contributions which are strictly historicist, as well as those which are unabashedly presentist, and I would be happy to consider arguments which lean right, as well as left. As Blake wrote, “Without Contraries is no progression.” I sincerely hope to showcase a variety of perspectives, and I think that will be possible. Judging from the expressions of interest to date, I think and I hope that readers will be pleasantly surprised, as well as intrigued, by the range of opinion on offer. And I would also continue to encourage anyone considering contributing to be in touch by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am happy to discuss ideas and possibilities informally in advance of the January 15 deadline, especially now, in the summer, while the days are long, the students are away, and my inbox is blissfully free of the usual term-time barrage.


Patrick Gray

Lecturer in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature

Department of English Studies

Durham University

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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