Frontline Shakespeare: Crisis, Conflict, Change and Shakespeare Appropriation from 1900 to 2022

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
European Shakespeare Research Association
contact email: 

Organizers: Natalia Khomenko (York University, Canada) khomenko@yorku.caViktoria Marinesko (Classic Private University, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) vmarinesko@gmail.comRonan Paterson (Teesside University, UK)

Throughout the turbulent political changes and military conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries, Shakespeare has often been enlisted as a cultural banner and a propaganda mouthpiece, both to argue for peace and to encourage military aggression. In 1916, as the Tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death was being commemorated during World War One, both Britain and Germany claimed Shakespeare for their own side, while in World War Two Churchill personally enlisted Laurence Olivier to make a film adaptation of Henry V to inspire the war effort. In other cases, Shakespeare has transformed into a unifying force. On the day of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian Shakespeare scholars issued a statement in which they called for an immediate return to peace talks, invoking Shakespeare as a symbol of humanist values. The Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre quoted Shakespeare in support of their effort to supply much-needed food and medical supplies to communities under attack.

This seminar sets out to examine how adaptations of Shakespeare’s work have been informed and shaped by the times of conflict. The contributors are invited to investigate the ideological causes to which Shakespeare has been drafted in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Europe, and to explore how his works have been appropriated in support of local and global claims in times of political tensions, ideological clashes, and social crises. Some of the directions the contributors could address include:

- national claims to owning Shakespeare in times of crisis,

- building international relationships through Shakespeare,

- Shakespeare and cultural competition in the aftermath of WWII,

- political oppression and Shakespeare,

- cultural tourism and cultural export,

- Shakespeare and fascism,

- Shakespeare and the Soviet Bloc,

- Shakespeare and political freedom after 1991,

- Shakespeare and military aggression

Please submit an abstract (200‒300 words) and a brief biography (100‒150 words) by 31 December 2022 (extended deadline) to all three organizers. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.

You can find more information about the European Shakespeare Research Association Conference 2023 here: