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Monday, 21 September 2020, 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Online Lecture

Offensive Shakespeare

Dr Adam Hansen, Dr Monika Smialkowska

From The Merchant of Venice to The Taming of the Shrew, it’s easy to see how Shakespeare’s plays can cause offence to contemporary audiences. Is it harder to teach Shakespeare today than in the past? Have ideas about what is offensive in Shakespeare changed over time? 

In this lecture, a team of Shakespeare scholars will look at the challenges and opportunities of teaching, editing and staging Shakespeare in our current ‘age of offence’.


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Adam is Senior Lecturer in English at Northumbria University, having taught at several universities (York, Oxford, Queen's Belfast,  Łódź and South East European University).

He has published numerous articles and chapters on early modern culture in its own time and after, exploring, amongst other things, Shakespeare's afterlives in fascism, disco, science fiction, and folk music. He is also the author of Shakespeare and Popular Music (2010), editor of Shakespeare in the North (2021), and co-editor of Litpop: Writing and Popular Music (2014), Shakespearean Echoes (2015), and The White Devil: A Critical Reader (2016).

From 2014-19, he convened the free, monthly, public reading group Shakespeare Club at Newcastle’s Lit and Phil, and at other locations in the North of England.  He is fascinated by how particular times and places produce particular kinds of culture and ways of understanding it, and how certain cultural forms represent specific locations, and experiences of dislocation.

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Dr Monika Smialkowska is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at Northumbria University. 

Her current research interest lies in post-renaissance adaptations and appropriations of early modern authors and genres. She has published book chapters and journal articles on the topic, focussing chiefly on the ways in which the Shakespeare Tercentenary of 1916 was celebrated across the world, and on the ways the North East of England participated in the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival. She edited a special issue of Shakespeare on the topic of ‘Shakespeare and the Great War’ (2014). She is working on a monograph about the 1916 Shakespeare Tercentenary, and co-editing, with Edmund King, a collection of essays entitled Memorialising Shakespeare: Commemoration and Collective Identity, 1916-2016 (forthcoming with Palgrave).

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