Archive for January, 2014


THE TAMING OF THE SHREW in Cardiff, Feb 11-15th

January 31, 2014
11th-15th February 2014, YMCA Theatre

Act One, Cardiff University’s drama society, is performing a unique interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic, The Taming of the Shrew this February at the YMCA theatre in Cardiff. Set in a 1960s office space, the adaptation presents a world where men make the rules and women struggle to fit in at all.

Pitched by director Sophie Hayden as “Mad Men meets Shakespeare,” it is an interesting rendition of the story with the city of Padua altered to become Padua Ltd, run by tired and weary CEO Baptista Minola. His youngest daughter Bianca is fought over by a hoard of suitors but the old man will not sanction a wedding until his vile tempered older daughter Katherina finds a man. This proves tough as her wicked tongue repels any potential husbands.

Travelling salesman Petruchio arrives and, with his vulgar wit, finally overcomes the wilful Katherina. She is pushed into marrying him and the relationship descends into a battle of the sexes. Petruchio’s cruel taunts and pranks break her fiery resolve down, culminating in a disturbing ending, problematic to modern audiences.

The talented cast presents an array of farcical characters, with the suitors in particular creating a highly entertaining and amusing story. However, there is a sinister undercurrent, which will both move and disturb the viewer.

Act One has become renowned for their distinctive Shakespeare interpretations, adapting the classic texts to modern and diverse settings. After the success of Julius Caesar last year, there is a real buzz around the upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew

Tickets are available on the door or from Adults: £7, Students: £6


Shakespeare in Cardiff at the Sherman Theatre

January 23, 2014

Classic and contemporary drama at Sherman Theatre

Performances that look at Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream,

The Tempest and Under Milk Wood in a new way.

Find out more in the newsletter here: Groups letter Spring 2014

Or visit the website here:


Journal Special Issue Call: “‘The dyer’s hand’: Colours in Early Modern England”

January 15, 2014

Special Issue of E-rea (13.1, Autumn 2015).

Guest Editor: Sophie Chiari (LERMA, Aix-Marseille Université).

Scientific Committee:

Sophie Chiari, Aix-Marseille Université (France)

Line Cottegnies, Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle (France)

Tobias Döring, Ludwig Maximilians-Universität (Munich, Germany)

Roy Eriksen, University of Agder (Norway)

Stuart Sillars, University of Bergen (Norway)


As Michel Pastoureau has shown, the Middle Ages were a time when heraldry changed the names and the meanings of colours and when both stained glass and manuscript illuminations testified to the rich symbolism of the vivid medieval palette. In recent years, much attention has also been paid to the new approaches to colour which emerged in 18th-century England, in the wake of Isaac Newton’s innovative ideas on the colour spectrum. Nowadays, a full range of highly saturated hues characterizes our daily environment, so much so that black and white convey both elegance and sophistication.

Yet, the function and the symbolism related to the use of colours in 15th-, 16th– and 17th-century England remain surprisingly unexplored, partly because the Aristotelian theories of vision and colours have long been regarded as relatively limited ones, and partly because, until the 17th century, most skills related to the art and uses of colour were protected by a number of trade secrets and only circulated by word of mouth. Moreover, as a new black and white print culture was gradually taking precedence over the lavish colours of medieval manuscripts, the advent of Protestantism was at the origin of several violent reactions against the use of bright colours. Nevertheless, for all the exhortations of a handful of “chromophobic” Puritans zealots like Philip Stubbes against what they regarded as “artifice”, the iconoclastic fever which swept across early modern England never really stopped the use of polychromy.

Indeed, in spite of the corruptibility of early modern pigments and of the limited range of available hues, cloth manufactures flourished and English artists continued to use many different hues in their works. The court miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard relied for example on vibrant blue, yellow, crimson, black, white, pink, orange and green shades in his paintings. In the meantime, Shakespeare’s “dyer’s hand” (Sonnet CXI) exploited a whole range of colours in his plays and poems, from the Dark Lady of the sonnets and the black Moor of Venice to the white and red roses of the three parts of Henry VI, the yellow stockings of Malvolio in Twelfth Night or Autolycus’s “ribbons of all the colours i’ th’ rainbow” in The Winter’s Tale (4.4.206). Generally speaking, the circulation of clothes, cosmetics, gemstones, recipes, heraldic devices, botanical drawings, and university textbooks then partly depended on the colours which characterized them. Strikingly enough, an increasing number of dyes were marketed and, as a result, many early modern Englishmen wore red beards and dyed their hair. During the Civil War, the differentiated use of colours proved to be an important means of recognition of troops while, in the 1650s, philosophers eager to understand how their contemporaries perceived the world attempted to reconsider colour to question the reliability of senses and common sense. In his Leviathan (1651), Hobbes suggested that, like tastes and odours, colours were actually subjective (or “sensible”) qualities that one could “discern” only “by Feeling”.

Now, if early modern men and women enjoyed and promoted a variety of tinges, tones and tinctures, they were also disturbed by the uncanny power of colouring and dyeing. Theories about the significance of skin colour proliferated and contributed to the emerging construction of race which led to the creation of a series of binary oppositions between black and white. Researchers now acknowledge that colours may have served to crystallize the sexual, religious and political anxieties of an era when vivid tints were often seen as a transgression of sorts. More often than not, colours were indeed associated with poison, illness and pollution, and were therefore seen as potentially dangerous. Under Elizabeth I, the London Parliament tried in vain to colour-code the citizens in order to facilitate the identification of subversive individuals. In the early 17th century, the Puritan Thomas Tuke won a lasting fame with his Treatise against Painting and Tincturing of Men and Women (1616) in which he warned his readers against cosmetic literature and attacked the “superfluous” painted faces of his time.

These examples tend to show that, in the early modern period, colour still codified gender as well as religious, political and social distinctions. In other words, colour was a symbolical and literary construct worth exploring for scholars interested in the multiple facets of identity construction in early modern England.

This special issue of the electronic journal E-rea ( aims at tracing the changing meanings of colour(s) in England from the Tudor era until the Restoration period (1485-1660). It will welcome papers dealing with the material, literary, aesthetic and sociological dimensions of colour in early modern England. Colours should thus be seen as part and parcel of the cultural codes followed or questioned by the early modern society.

Find out more in the Word document here:



‘The Theatre of the Book’: Marginalia and Mise en Page in the Cardiff Rare Books Restoration Drama Collection

January 8, 2014

Cardiff Book History

by Melanie Bigold*

Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Occasional Publications No. 1

The Bigold abstractvalue-added aspect of both marginalia and provenance has long been recognized.  Ownership marks and autograph annotations from well-known writers or public figures increase the intellectual interest as well as monetary value of a given book. Handwritten keys, pointers, and marginal glosses can help to reveal unique, historical information unavailable in the printed text; information that, in turn, can be used to reconstruct various reading and interpretive experiences of the past. However, increasingly scholars such as Alan Westphall have acknowledged that the ‘study of marginalia and annotations’ results in ‘microhistory, producing narratives that are often idiosyncratic.’ While twenty to fifty percent of early modern texts have some sort of marking in them, many of these forays in textual alterity are unsystematic and fail to address, as William Sherman notes, ‘the larger patterns that most literary and historical…

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