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Offensive Shakespeare Conference

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Northumbria University

Sponsored by The British Shakespeare Association

Keynote Speakers

Professor Douglas Lanier (University of New Hampshire)
Dr Peter Kirwan (Nottingham University)

Outrage as BBC bosses “use Shakespeare to push pro-immigration agenda"

Shakespeare ImageThis was a headline in The Daily Express on 25 April 2016, after the BBC included what has become known as the 'Immigration Speech' from Sir Thomas More in a programme celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. From Thomas and Henrietta Bowdler expurgating 'inappropriate' passages from their Family Shakespeare, through Jewish campaigns in the early 20th century to remove The Merchant of Venice from American classrooms, to this latest 'outrage', people have been offended by what Shakespeare wrote or by the uses to which others have put him. But what is it that offends us and how do we deal with it? What makes Shakespeare and his appropriations such a sensitive issue?

This conference seeks to answer these questions by examining the following and related areas: 

  • Case studies of individuals or groups taking offence at Shakespeare’s texts.
  • Examples of Shakespearean rewritings aimed to address ‘offensive’ issues.
  • Shakespearean plays or performances which have been banned, censored, or campaigned against.
  • Debates around including or removing Shakespeare from educational curricula, and/or making the study of his work mandatory.
  • Appropriations of Shakespeare by anti-democratic, repressive movements (e.g. ‘Nazi Shakespeare’, ‘racist Shakespeare’).
  • Iconoclastic uses of Shakespeare, going against established orthodoxies.
  • Adaptations of Shakespeare into popular genres or idioms (charges of ‘dumbing down’).
  • The ways to tackle plays which include passages offensive to current moral, ethical, or political sensibilities (e.g. The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, The Merchant of Venice).
  • Issues surrounding studying and teaching Shakespeare without giving offence in the era of ‘trigger warnings’.
  • Uses of Shakespeare in propaganda, inflammatory speeches and/or heated political debates.
  • Authorship controversies. 

Online Booking is now available

Download the Programme 

This is a two-day conference but delegates can attend both days or just one.

  • Full Delegate Rate (2 Days): £60
  • Full Delegate Rate (1 Day): £30
  • Student/Unwaged Rate (2 Days): £30
  • Student/Unwaged Rate (1 Day): £15

Thanks to a generous grant from the British Shakespeare Association, we are able to offer two bursaries of £75 each to assist postgraduate students with the costs of attending the conference. Please, email the organisers if you would like to apply for one of these.

Click the Book Here button to reserve your place

Accommodation

There is a variety of accommodation in Newcastle upon Tyne to match all types of budget.

Information on hotels can be found at: www.newcastlegateshead.com/accommodation  

The nearest hotels to the conference venue are:

The organisers thank the author, Lex Drewinski, for kindly allowing us to use his poster (seen within the text) in our conference materials. The poster won the 2015 competition 'Shakespeare ',  organised by Galeria Plakatu AMS in Warsaw, Poland. We also thank the gallery's director, Janusz Górski, for the permission to reproduce the image. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 

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Event Details

Northumbria University
Lipman Building
Room 121
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 8ST

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0191 227 4974


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