Archive for February, 2013


Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS)

February 8, 2013

Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS)

Kingston University’s new seminar series is open to the public as well as staff and students. The seminars will be held at the Rose Theatre, in Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, from 5.30 to 7pm on the following dates:

* Thursday 7 February 2013: Dominique Goy-Blanquet (University of Picardy; current President of the Shakespeare Association of France): ‘Henry VIII and The Maid’s Wedding: Ghostly Revels’

* Wednesday 20 February 2013: Tobias Doring (Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich; current President of the German Shakespeare Association): ‘Shakespeare’s Afterlife: Contemporary German poetry and the problem of poetic creativity’

* Thursday 7 March 2013: Ewan Fernie (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham): ‘Garrick and the German Enlightenment’

* Wednesday 20 March 2013: Coppelia Kahn (Brown University): ‘Reading the Face in “Hamlet”‘

* Thursday 11 April 2013: David Skilton (Cardiff University): ‘The Novelist’s Voice: Shakespearean Intertext in Thackeray and Trollope’


MEMORI Today: Lying in Early Modern Literature

February 7, 2013

MEMORI LOGOMedieval and Early Modern Research Initiative

Prof. Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex) will be presenting a paper today on ‘Lying in Early Modern Literature’.

7th of February, Room 2.03, 5.15pm

Find out more about the research seminars in the School of English, Communication and Philsophy here.


Richard III: “To Prove a Villain” ~ by Michael Goodman

February 6, 2013

‘It doesn’t look like the face of a tyrant’, declared Phillipa Langley as she stared  longingly at the reconstructed head of Richard III at the end of Channel 4’s extraordinary documentary Richard III: The King in the Car Park. Langley, whose passion for Richard led to the discovery of the Plantagenet King’s skeleton in a car park in Leicester, had finally found the Richard she was looking for and was overcome with emotion, ‘You can kind of see the man really, can’t you…and there’s no Tudor mythology all over him.’ By ‘Tudor mythology’ Langley implicitly means Shakespeare’s play Richard III.

The Tragedy of Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s most enduring and compelling explorations of villainy and performance, has become, for the public imagination at least, historical record. As the play opens we are greeted by a ‘deformed’ and ‘unfinished’ ‘bunch-backed toad’ who is so morally repugnant and so full of malice he has no cares in confiding to the audience – in one of the most famous speeches in all literature – that he is ‘subtle false and treacherous’.  And, remarkably, he charms us. Shakespeare’s Richard straddles the play and theatrical history like a colossus. His physical deformity, as Freud would later demonstrate, is entwined with his psychological state: Richard is a villain because of his of his disfigurement. It is no wonder, then, that one of the central assertions of the Richard III Society is that the King never had a ‘hunch-back’. And, by implication, if he never had a hunch-back then he could not possibly have been the ‘murderous Machiavel’ as depicted in Shakespeare’s ‘Tudor Myth’.

Much has already been written about the Channel 4 documentary – mostly of the negative sort. The main focus of this negativity has been the lack of thorough scientific investigation and Phillipa Langley herself, whose histrionics led the reviewer from The Telegraph to write ‘the level of emotion she had invested in every twist and turn, you could have mistaken for the dead king’s widow.’ To bemoan the documentary for its lack of scientific rigour, however, is to miss the point of the programme: this was a story less about Richard III and more about a woman who obtained the object of her desire only to find, in a cruel Shakespearian twist, that the object was defined by the very feature she, and the Richard III Society, had sought to eliminate form the discourse surrounding the King. The documentary was, in truth, a fascinating character study.

When the archaeologist explains to Langley that when she was excavating the skeleton she discovered an abnormal curvature of the spine and ‘what we are seeing here is that this skeleton has a hunch-back’, Langley stares into the grave open- mouthed and lets out an incredulous cry of ‘No!’, before asking the presenter does he mind if she sits on a mound of mud to gather her thoughts. Realising that the house of cards on which the Society is based is about to come crashing down, the presenter, Simon Farnaby (appropriately from The Mighty Boosh, a surreal BBC comedy) tries to reassure Langley by suggesting ‘he could still have a hunch-back and still be a nice guy’. But it is too late. Langley has realised the implications of the evidence she sees before her and starts clutching at straws: ‘It’s funny…we have descriptions of Richard by people who met him, and they don’t mention it…’

It is unusual for television to actually confront a person directly with hard-evidence that absolutely contradicts their almost religious faith in the ‘truth’ of their opinion. In the world of Shakespeare Studies, where fabrication and conjecture are mostly the default modes of biographical analysis, Langley’s response is the equivalent of someone hypothetically presenting Derek Jacobi, an ardent Oxfordian, with a signed confession by William Shakespeare of Stratford saying ‘I wrote Hamlet and here’s a video-tape of me doing it.’  What is of interest in both Langley’s and the anti-Stratfordian’s cases is they feel the need to diminish ‘Shakespeare’, whether by saying he was a Tudor propagandist, or simply the front man for the Earl of Oxford.

‘It doesn’t look like the face of a tyrant’…we will never know. Yet if there is one element that is powerfully present in all of Shakespeare’s plays it is this: always be wary of representations and, indeed, ghosts.



Michael Goodman is a PhD candidate at Cardiff University.

Follow @CardiffShakes

(© Michael Goodman, 2013)

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Cardiff, 12-16 Feb

February 5, 2013



‘Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’

Shakespeare’s excellent study in ambition has never been more relevant than right now. This modern, site-specific adaptation drags the text into a political world not unlike our own, a world where women are finally permitted to ascend to the highest office. Performed in the round in Cardiff City Hall’s Council Chamber, with a mixed gender cast, this is an interpretation that interrogates our own political system and sheds new light on a text that has a timeless resonance.

Join us, and watch at close quarters the rise and fall of Marcus Brutus; an honest woman, misled.

12-16 FEBRUARY 2013


DOORS 7PM £7 (£6 NUS)

Find us on twitter @CAESARCARDIFF

Directed by Ben Atterbury

Produced by Catherine Elliott

Find out more here.

Read the Director’s Blog Post here.


Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king

February 4, 2013


Richard’s grave was marked for decades after his death but was then lost for 400 years

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.

Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch’s family.

Richard was killed in battle in 1485 but his grave was lost when the church around it was demolished in the 16th Century.

The skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull.

The bones, which are of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, have been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540.

Richard was 32 when he died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Find out more here.

For “a note of sceptism” see here.

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