All entries for Monday 19 January 2009

January 19, 2009

Arts Faculty Postgraduate Seminar series – Wednesday 21st January

This Wednesday, I will be presenting a paper at the Arts Faculty Postgraduate Seminar Series entitled:

"Those Wretched Plays: Bardolatry vs. The Shakespeare Canon

This paper discusses the Shakespeare canon, suggesting that the basic 36 play canon we still work from today was founded on bardolatrous - and hence, academically unsound by modern standards - criteria.I demonstrate that the First Folio was only retrospectively installed as the 'holy text' of the Shakespeare religion by the actions of 18th century editors and critics.

In particular, I look at the disputes between Alexander Pope and Lewis Theobald, the editors who returned to the 36 play canon after sixty years of a 43 play canon, and demonstrate that their motives for doing so were unsubstantial, yet their impact irreparable.

Finally, I look ahead to the mid-18th century, to a period where Shakespeare himself was invoked to deny his own involvement in 'those wretched plays', the Shakespeare Apocrypha.

This is based on the very earliest phases of my research, but it's been useful working through the narratives, and there's definitely some original thought in there! Hopefully it'll be an entertaining and interesting paper, and a good introduction to the issues surrounding the apocryphal plays for anyone with an interest.

5.30pm, Arts Faculty Graduate Space. All welcome!


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I’m Peter Kirwan, a final year doctoral student in the English Department at Warwick, and this is my PhD blog.


Conferences, reviews, articles, thoughts and links relating to my interests in the Shakespeare apocrypha, early modern drama, authorship and performance.

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