The Text of Prof. Richard Wilson’s Inaugural LectureNovember 22, 2013
Anniversary Chair and Sir Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies
“Sermons in Stones: Shakespeare’s dangerous thresholds”
October 30th, 2013
The sandstone megalith in front of Kingston’s Rose Theatre was described by John Speed in 1613 as ‘the chair of majesty whereon Athelstan, Edwin and Ethelred sate at their coronations and first received their Sceptre of Imperial Power’. Since it was moved to near its present position in 1850, the debates and legends this sarsen or ‘troublesome stone’ has accumulated say much about changing ideas of history and monarchy. But evidence that the ‘Coronation Stone’ originated in the Saxon chapel that stood beside the Market Place also places it at the threshold of contemporary theories regarding religion and politics, or what the philosopher Giorgio Agamben terms the separation of ‘the kingdom and the glory’. Interpreted in light of these, Kingston’s relic marks the theatrical dimension of power in a politics founded on consent, and the dangers Shakespeare dramatized attending every official entry or inauguration.
The pdf of Prof. Richard Wilson’s inaugural lecture can be now be downloaded here: