September 19, 2011

From Shakespeare’s Globe:

“In 1603 moralist, Henry Crosse, described what happens to spectators while attending   a play: ‘for at a Play the whole faculty of the mind is altogether bent on delight; the eye earnestly fixed upon the object, every sense busied for the time, the ear narrowly waiteth to catch that [w]hat is uttered, sending it to wit’.

For Renaissance writers and thinkers, the senses were ordered in a hierarchy with the ‘princely’ senses of sight and hearing at the top, smell in the middle and the ‘sinful’ senses of taste and touch at the bottom. But despite this popular ordering of the senses, many playwrights and artists privileged the senses of taste and touch over the others.

This season, Globe Education will celebrate the senses by exploring how in Shakespeare’s time, they were imagined to be crucial gateways to the external world.”

Professor Richard Wilson from Cardiff University will be speaking at the Globe conference below:


Friday 4 – Sunday 6 November

Globe Education has gathered together a range of distinguished scholars and theatre practitioners to investigate the early modern culture of the senses as it pertains to the worlds of medicine, epistemology, music, performance, science, clothing and art. In addition to plenary lectures there will be panels and practical sessions on hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste and proprioception (the sixth sense). Speakers include: Dr Margaret Healy (Sussex), Professor Katherine Duncan-Jones (Oxford) Professor David Lindley (Leeds), Professor Ayana Thompson (ASU), Professor William West (Northwestern), Dr P.A. Skantze (Roehampton), Professor Richard Wilson (Cardiff), Dr Lucy Munro (Keele), Dr Eric Langley (Royal Holloway), Tom Cornford (Director), Professor Jonathan Hope (Strathclyde), Professor Patricia Cahill (Emory), Professor Lara Farina (West Virginia), Dr Katharine Craik (Oxford Brookes), Professor Benedict S. Robinson (Stonybrook), Professor Hristomir Stanev (Louisville).

The conference at the Globe will address three issues: first, the Renaissance theory of the senses and how its discourses impacted upon the imagination of the early modern playwright; second, the relationship between the senses and medicine in relationship to humoural psychology and the actor’s body; third, the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatres (outdoor and indoor) as multi-sensory producing spaces and the effects of performance upon the senses. In addition, this conference will address ways in which the senses can be integrated pedagogically into the university classroom in English and Theatre studies programmes. Scholars from a variety of disciplines (history, psychology, theatre, and English) will address these questions through scholarly papers and workshops (pedagogical and theatrical).  Finally, this conference hopes to revise the view that early modern theatre was either a place for ‘seeing’ or ‘hearing’; rather, play-going in this period was a multi-sensory experience involving a complex integration of all of the senses, which are called upon throughout a Shakespearean play.


Nancy W. Knowles Lecture Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe



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