Strike up, pipers. Shakespeare's Festivities
As we celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday we turn to merriment and comme-moration in Shakespeare's plays. There is reason to believe that Shakespeare, if he were still alive, would shun the festivities in his honour. Shakespeare, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, never contributed to the royal entries or city pageants in his lifetime. We also know that Shakespeare's festive comedies cast doubt upon what is being celebrated and by whom. Equally, it is often the wreath of victory or the lascivious pleasing of a lute that foreshadows a crisis. Without ignoring the fact that there is a place for merriment and festivity in Shakespeare's oeuvre, we would like to investigate why and how celebration goes awry in so many of his plays. That investigation allows for revisiting, among other issues, notions of genre, the place of rhetoric, as well as constraints of production. Are Shakespeare's feasts tapered by the amalgamation of religious, political and economic constraints? And how far does the historical context influence our reading of these feasts? Is the "feast of Crispian" a feast? Can it survive as a legacy stripped from the commemoration of Marian martyrs and resonances with the nursery rhyme "Remember, remember, the fifth of November"? Identifying merriment and commemoration as ritual, and addressing the cultural and textual forces at play, this workshop aims at a closer understanding of why Shakespeare arguably sympathised with Mistress Page in preferring to "go home, and laugh this sport o'er by a country fire".
Our seminar plans to address these and related questions with a panel of six papers during the annual conference of the German Shakespeare Association, Shakespeare-Tage (24-27 April 2014 in Weimar, Germany). As critical input for the discussion and provocation for debate, panellists are invited to give short statements on the basis of pre-circulated papers presenting concrete case studies, concise examples and strong views on the topic. Please send your proposals (abstracts of 300 words) and all further questions by 15 November 2013 to the seminar convenors: