Shakespeare: The Philosopher, 12th-13th September 2014; deadline for abstracts 16th June 2014

full name / name of organization: 
University of Hertfordshire, UK

Shakespeare's work is rich in philosophical themes, addressing questions in areas including metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. Meanwhile, issues concerning how Shakespeare's works manage to represent what they do are ripe for consideration in aesthetics, with the plays raising questions about the nature of representation, fiction, interpretation, literature and history, tragedy and comedy. Shakespeare: The Philosopher aims to explore the importance of philosophy in understanding Shakespeare, and the importance of Shakespeare to issues in philosophy.

We welcome abstracts of around 1000 words on any aspect of the relationships between Shakespeare and philosophy. Questions considered could include (but are not limited to):

- Do Shakespeare's worlds have distinctive metaphysical features?
- What are Shakespeare's views about knowledge, perception and belief?
- How does Shakespeare's use of language impact on questions in the philosophy of language?
- Do Shakespeare's works suggest particular accounts of interpersonal relationships such as marriages, friendships and family loyalties?
- How do Shakespeare's plays illuminate, and how are they illuminated by, the notions of political and legal authority?
- How do Shakespeare's characters navigate issues of trust, deception, testimony and epistemic responsibility?
- Does engaging with Shakespearean theatre require entertaining values distinct from one's own?
- Does engagement with the plays reveal ideas about equality and justice?
- What do we learn about virtues by examining Shakespeare's characters?
- How has Shakespeare been influenced by philosophy? How has Shakespeare influenced philosophy?
- To what extent is Shakespeare's work motivated by Platonistic, Aristotelian, and Epicurean philosophy?
- Are there genre-specific principles which determine what is true in a Shakespearean fiction?
- Are departures from the actual world's history licensed in interpretations of the plays?
- Do anachronistic accounts of Shakespearean worlds and characters constitute permissible interpretations?
- Is establishing the authenticity of various scenes important for aesthetic engagement?

Two sessions are reserved for papers from current graduate students. Please indicate in your email if you would like your abstract to be considered for a graduate speaker session.

The papers from the conference will be considered for an edited collection (subject to peer-review). Early discussions with a major publisher are underway.

Please send abstracts, and any questions, to The deadline for submission of abstracts is June 16th 2014, and we aim to inform potential speakers by June 30th.

The conference is made possible by the generous support of the British Society of Aesthetics and the Mind Association. We are also grateful for additional support from the University of Hertfordshire.

Craig Bourne (Hertfordshire) & Emily Caddick Bourne (Cambridge & Birkbeck, London)