In this OUPblog post, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ asks, was Shakespeare raised Catholic, and what role did his father, John, play.
“Why, within the world of the novel, is Jacob unknowable? He is the hero of a Shakespeare play.” Emily Kopley uses Virginia Woolf’s letters with her brother to examine her first experimental novel, “Jacob’s Room”.
In this OUPblog post, Lena Cowen Orlin, author of the “detailed and dazzling” ‘The Private Life of William Shakespeare’ asks: just when was Shakespeare’s birthday?
Why is “the all-male stage” inadequate as shorthand for the early modern stage? For one thing, it enforces a gender binary that has little to do with the subjects, desires, audiences, and practices of the time. Gender was elusive, plural, and performative, especially on the stage, where attractive androgynous boys played women, or switched back and forth between genders. The importance of female spectators, artisans, and backers gives the lie to total exclusion, and so does mounting evidence that women played in many spheres adjacent to the professional stage.
What role should literature have in the interdisciplinary study of emotion? The dominant answer today seems to be “not much.” Scholars of literature of course write about emotion; but fundamental questions about what emotion is and how it works belong elsewhere: to psychology, cognitive science, neurophysiology, philosophy of mind. In Shakespeare’s time the picture was different. What the period called “passions” were material for ethics and for that part of natural philosophy dealing with the soul; but it was rhetoric that offered the most extensive accounts of the passions.
There has always been some perceived affinity between the submissive Ophelia and East Asian women. Ophelia is a paradox in world literature. Even when she appears to depend on others for her thoughts like her Western counterpart, the Ophelias in Asian adaptations adopt some rhetorical strategies to make themselves heard, balancing between eloquence and silence, shattering the stereotypes about docile Asian women.
Our debts today are largely owed to institutions: to banks, schools, hospitals. Sometimes, they are owed to companies that do nothing but buy and manage debt. In Shakespeare’s England, debt was just as necessary for day-to-day life as it is now—maybe more so—but rather than faceless corporations, debts were owed to other people.
A golden age for some, crooked and dishonest for others? Perhaps William Shakespeare grew up thinking this way about Elizabeth I and her ministers as disaster befell his father.
Creating access for people with disabilities sometimes means fundamentally changing the nature of the thing that is made accessible. When we change the nature of the thing made accessible, we don’t just create access and inclusion for people with disabilities—we often create a new kind of experience altogether.
Since the 19th century, stage and film directors have mounted hundreds of adaptations of Shakespeare drawn on East Asian motifs, and by the late 20th century, Shakespeare had become one of the most frequently performed playwrights in East Asia.
With characteristic aplomb, then, Shakespeare has anticipated—by a good four hundred years—exactly what happens when more than three people try to chat informally via Zoom. The kind of interaction that would be relatively straightforward in person becomes torturously difficult. Everything takes longer. Everything requires more effort. Without careful attention to what linguists call “turn-taking,” things quickly descend into chaos.
Despite his foundational status in today’s academy, William Shakespeare was not particularly welcome in the early modern English universities. In the 1570s and 1580s, just as the commercial playhouses were gaining steam in London, the authorities of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities enacted statutes banning “common stage players” from performing within university precincts. Chancellors lacked the […]