Conferences 2015: Shakespeare and others

The fortress in Famagusta, Cyprus

The fortress in Famagusta, Cyprus

2015 may be seen as a breathing space between the major years of 2014 (450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth) and 2016 (400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death), but there are a goodly crop of academic conferences coming up this year that Shakespeare-lovers will be interested in. Here’s a roundup: some are still open for the submission of papers, and others already have their timetables up in case you fancy attending some of the sessions. Most, and many others, are listed on the admirable Renaissance Diary site.

At this time of year we’re all in need of a little sunshine, and the first takes place in the exotic setting of Nicosia in Cyprus. It’s the Third Annual Conference of the Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance Periods, with the title Othello’s Island, taking place from 20-22 March. It intends to combine academic debate with time spent discovering and exploring the remarkable Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where the main action of Othello takes place.

The next isn’t actually a Shakespeare conference, but who wouldn’t like to know more about the great poet John Donne in the lovely surroundings of Oxford? The conference, Reconsidering Donne, is at Lincoln College, Oxford on 23 and 24 March.

In April Shakespeare’s Globe is holding its Spring conference, entitled The Halved Heart: Shakespeare and Friendship, from 17-19 April. The conference will consider  the place of friendship in early modern drama and theatre culture, and will conclude with a staged reading by a company of Globe actors of The Faithful Friends (Anon., King’s Men, c.1614).

The University of Lodz, in Poland, is hosting Shakespeare Recreated: New Contexts, New Interpretations, from 22-23 April. This is going to be a wide-ranging conference including Polish explorations of Shakespeare, filming Shakespeare and Shakespeare in pop culture.

Also on 23 April is a one-day Conference at the British Institute in Florence, entitled  Arcadia: Gender, Genre and Wordplay in Early Modern Comedy. The conference will focus on comedy in early modern texts, and on how humour is produced in language and plot, what purposes it serves and how it can be related to issues of gender and genre.

Back in England, the 17th Britgrad conference is being held at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon from 4-6 June. This is an opportunity for graduate students to contribute on subjects relating to Shakespeare, Early Modern, and/or Renaissance studies. Those attending will also be able to attend the RSC’s eagerly-anticipated production of Othello.

Full details haven’t been released yet but the one-day conference on Matter and Materiality in Early Modern England that is being held at the University of Cambridge on 12 June 2015 will be a treat, if the sumptuous images on the website are anything to go by.

The International Spenser Society will be holding its fifth Conference at Dublin Castle, Ireland, 18-20 June. The conference will address Edmund Spenser’s places – domestic, urban, global, historical, colonial, rhetorical, geopolitical, etc. – but also the place of Spenser in Renaissance studies, in the literary tradition, in Britain, in Ireland, in the literary and political cultures of his own moment.

There will be a conference on one of Shakespeare’s contemporary playwrights, John Fletcher, in a conference at Canterbury Christ Church University from 26-27 June, with the title John Fletcher: A Critical Reappraisal.

ESRA Shakespeare conference flyer

ESRA Shakespeare conference flyer

From 29 June to 2 July the European Shakespeare Research Association Congress’s Biennial conference will take place at the University of Worcester European Shakespeare under the title Shakespeare’s Europe – Europe’s Shakespeare(s). Shakespeare’s plays invite spectators and readers to travel to different places, imagined and real, within the continent of Europe. “Within the confines of one play, Hamlet, too, maps Europe: from Elsinore, Laertes requests permission to return to France; the Mousetrap is set in Vienna, which will become the setting for Measure for Measure; Hamlet is sent to England, and on his way encounters the Norwegian army marching across Denmark on its way to Poland.”

For others with an interest in theatre archives, a conference entitled Performing the Archive is being held at the National University of Ireland, Galway, from 22-24 July. Speakers will include Professor Tracy C Davies from Northwestern University. It’s based on the digitization of the archives of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and ” will gather together scholars, artists and archivists engaged in working with archival materials on research and performance projects to explore the uses and possibilities of the archive today”. The conference will also coincide with the Galway Arts Festival, bringing together practitioners, audiences and academics “to facilitate a national and international conversation about the place of archives in not only theatre and performance research and teaching, but arts practice and perception of theatre history more broadly.”

Samuel Johnson, by Joshua Reynolds

Samuel Johnson, by Joshua Reynolds

From 7-9 August a conference on Johnson and Shakespeare will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson’s edition of The Plays of William Shakespeare in 1765. It’s being held at Johnson’s College, Pembroke, and will reassess Johnson’s achievement as a critic and textual editor. It was an important event for both Johnson and Shakespeare, as, following a number of other competing editions, Johnson acknowledged the contribution of other editors in his notes, creating the first variorum edition.

Finally a conference on Shakespeare’s great contemporary, Christopher Marlowe. From 7-8 September the University of Exeter will be hosting The International Christopher Marlowe. Much current and historical scholarship has tended to consider Marlowe’s plays, poems and translations from an English cultural and literary perspective and this conference seeks to explore him in the context of non-English cultures.

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