All entries for June 2009

June 17, 2009

British Graduate Shakespeare Conference

The annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference ran Thursday to Saturday of last week. This was my third Britgrad, second time presenting. Sadly I was only able to attend for the first two days, but as ever it was a thoroughly fascinating and useful event.

My paper, "Preserving Shakespeare: Bardolatry, Canon and the Shakespeare Apocrypha", was essentially a distilled version of some elements of my first chapter, looking at how the Apocrypha had been formed by Bardolatrous critical and editorial attitudes, but making the case that the Apocrypha is a necessary consequence of an author-centric study of the period. I was actually moved on the morning of my presentation from a panel dealing with cultural value to be paired with a paper on Nashe's pamphlets. While the former panel would have been extremely useful, there were some nice parallels coming up between our papers.

Not my best paper, but useful to deliver, and made me more aware of what's within my remit to deliver. The questions were primarily concerned with the implications for a wider understanding of canon, which is something I'm absolutely very interested in, but I had let that overtake my paper rather more than I'd realised. In order that this project doesn't spiral completely out of control, I'm going to have to make sure that my primary focus is the apocryphal plays: once they start becoming a subsidiary part of my argument, I'm biting off far more than I can chew.

Lots of extremely good papers, too many to discuss in any kind of detail here, but there was a very intriguing thread going through several that I saw. A growing interest in how Shakespeare's work relates to that of his contemporaries was manifested in surprisingly varied ways: Clare Smout talked about sources, considering A Woman Killed with Kindness as a source for Measure for Measure, while Derek Dunne talked about intertextuality, with revenge tragedies actively responding to their generic predecessors. My own research is considering discursive authorship, plays being "authored" by their forebears, competition, theatrical provenance and generic considerations. The cumulative effect of this was to suggest how criticism is moving to embrace and negotiate the collaborative environment of the theatre as impacting on authorship, promoting a closer attention to repertory as a part of the authoring process.

Two conferences last week then, both of which have given me a great deal to think about.

Authorship: An Interdisciplinary Conference

I presented on my PhD research for the first time last week at a postgraduate conference at Roehampton. Particularly interesting conference this for me, as it was also the first time I'd presented to a non-specialist Shakespeare audience. The theme of the conference was "Authorship" in all its forms, and a fascinating mix it was.

Papers covered ground from contemporary creative translations of Petrarchan sonnets to multiple versions of films being released on DVD, from discussions of how individual authors' lives impacted on their work to ideas of editing and re-authoring from archives.

The main benefit of this conference for me was in breaking out of a Shakespearean community with received ideas about canonicity and authorship, and from ideas of literary authorship themselves. Film offers some fascinating parallels with the early modern dramatic canon, particularly in the way it presents single names as the stated 'authors' of a collaborative project. The idea of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" seems to me to potentially have some interesting mileage in respect of an understanding of how the King's Men's plays were originally presented.

The author appeared, overall, as a particularly elusive and problematic figure, and impossible to come to any neat conclusions about. Some of us were presenting papers attempting to move away from the author towards a wider sense of discursive authorship, others were reacting against this kind of move to draw greater importance to the individual agencies responsible for bringing a text to public attention. There was definitely a shared sense of the 'author' having to be understood as part of the authoring process rather than the whole, but beyond that it seems that there's a great deal of work still to be done.

More generally, the conference itself was a small and extremely friendly affair, and I feel quite privileged to have been invited to take part. I'll post my abstract for the event over on my e-portfolio shortly.

June 15, 2009


Just a quick note to say that I passed my upgrade today.

At Warwick, all PhDs register initially for an MPhil, then at the end of their first year (or thereabouts) go through an upgrade process. This involves an interview with two members of staff (not your supervisor) and submission of 10,000 words and some supporting materials. It's essentially an opportunity for the department to make sure the student's on track, and for the student to get feedback from some extra eyes.

Anyway, I passed, so am now officially a PhD candidate! Plenty of work to do on the material I submitted, but for now I'm going to take a well-earned deep breath and relax for a couple of days.....

June 05, 2009

The Romeo and Juliet Experience

Oh, for crying out loud.

June 01, 2009

Teaching allocation

I just received my teaching allocation for next academic year, my first teaching within the English Department at Warwick. I'll be running two seminar groups on Medieval to Renaissance English Literature, a primarily poetry course that runs from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to John Donne, covering Canterbury Tales, Faerie Queene and that Shakespeare bloke along the way.

It's an ideal course for me to be teaching on. It's a first year module, which puts slightly less pressure on me, and it forces me to work outside of my primary research area while still having direct connections to it. I had worried that teaching Shakespeare, or a more general theatre course, would keep my CV rather narrow.

However, this does mean that I'll be spending my summer brushing up on medieval vocab. and re-reading  Spencer. Luckily, there's a nice Simon Armitage documentary showing on Thursday, which should break me back in gently.....


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.

June 2009

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