Seminar on 'Dis-Enchantments/Re-Enchantments'. Shakespeare Association of America annual meeting, St Louis, 10-12 April 2014.

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Nandini Das (University of Liverpool, UK)
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Call for papers:
This seminar addresses dealings with the wondrous, magical, holy, sacred, sainted, numinous, uncanny, auratic, sacral, etc. in the plays of Shakespeare and contemporaries, produced in an era often associated with the irresistible rise of a thinned-out secular rationalism. Two cues for enquiry are contemporary recognition of heightened early modern interest in the propitiously archaic (cf. Pericles: ‘Et bonum quo antiquius eo melius’), and contemporary unsettling of belief in the explanatory efficacy of Weberian Entzauberung (‘de-magicing’). Plays of the era recurrently broach the theme of 'disenchantment', in the broad sense of the discrediting of traditional social-metaphysical beliefs, and might at times be seen as producing it; but sometimes they also invest represented action with the aura of the sacred and the wondrous. Does dramatic representation of magic itself 'de-magic', as for example by making magic a phenomenon of distant or other worlds, or of confused, dream-like thought? Or might it empower the thought of magic in instating magic's uncanniness by narrative and dramatic means? What attitude do Shakespeare's Roman plays project to the Roman sacred or portentous? Do Shakespeare's 'late' plays project typical post-Reformation English attitudes in locating a kind of sacredness in the culturally superseded as recrafted to suit modern sensibilities? Is the era’s theatre hospitable to the magical or sacred, or does it mainly facilitate an aestheticizing, intellectually distanced reception of it?

Among possible concerns are: ‘mouldy tales’, and the giving of imaginative power to ostensibly unsophisticated, culturally dépassé narrative and dramatic material; representations of classical divinity and the ominous; desecrations of the chivalric body; drama and supernatural vision, including an optically recreated supernatural; the numinous and the playful; represented magic and the other worlds of travel and romance; dealings with the historical Reformation (e.g. Arden of Faversham); low comedy in plays of high magic; supernatural as meta-theatre.

Seminar leaders: Nandini Das (University of Liverpool, UK) and Nick Davis (University of Liverpool, UK)

Format: Registrants in SAA research seminars are expected to complete significant work in advance of the meeting: research papers, common readings, and bibliographic compilation. Seminars are appropriate for college and university faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students in the later stages of their doctoral work.

Register for this seminar and become a member of SAA online at:

Deadline for registration: 15 September

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