KiSSiT: Shakespeare and
the Philosophical Turn
December 9, 2017
Rose Theatre Kingston-upon-Thames
Confirmed speakers: Craig Bourne (Hertfordshire), Emily Caddick Bourne (Hertfordshire) and Géza Kállay (ELTE, Hungary)
Over the last two decades there has been a turn away from theory to philosophy in Shakespeare studies. In 2000, the Philosophical Shakespeares collection, edited by John J. Joughin, appeared, which, in effect, gathered the philosophical strands of theory under its traditional name. Fittingly it was prefaced by the unapologetically philosophical Stanley Cavell, whose own updated edition of Disowning Knowledge appeared in 2003.
Since the dawn of the new millennium, there has been an increased interest by philosophers in Shakespeare, with books published by Agnes Heller, Colin McGinn, Tzachi Zamir, Jennifer Ann Bates, Raymond Angelo Belliotti, Andrew Cutrofello, Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster; whereas Shakespeareans, like A. D. Nuttall, Richard Wilson, Hugh Grady, Stephen Greenblatt, Julia Lupton, and Andreas Höfele as well as Ewan Fernie, Paul A. Kottman, and Sam Gilchrist Hall, have mirrored the philosophers’ interest with monographs on topics from aesthetics to political theology.
However, this claim for a philosophical turn has been undercut particularly by two collections: in 2009, Paul A. Kottman edited a volume of philosophers discussing Shakespeare from Herder to Heller including writings of important 20th century figures such as Walter Benjamin, Georg Lukács, the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, and Jacques Derrida; in 2014, Jennifer Ann Bates and Richard Wilson edited Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy, which brought philosophers and Shakespeareans together. Both collections are steeped in the continental tradition of philosophy and, as Richard Wilson marks, have an ‘engagement with the works of Shakespeare sustained over three centuries’.
The latest philosophical turn seems more of a return as the theoretical boom of the 80s and 90s was itself steeped particularly in the French side of continental philosophy. Nearly a century before that, critics like R. G. Moulton and A. C. Bradley had a clear philosophical interest in Shakespeare, who were preceded by Coleridge’s Romantic criticism (influenced by German Idealism). Moreover, the writing of early literary critics, like Dryden, Addison and Steele, had a strongly philosophical tone.
Why does Shakespeare provoke philosophical reflection? Is there something distinct in the latest philosophical turn, or is it merely in a continuum of theory and earlier criticism? Does literary criticism itself have a philosophical mode of thought?
We invite abstracts for 20-minute presentations on philosophical aspects of Shakespeare and criticism. Please submit abstracts and brief CVs by emailing the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday 17 November, 2017 [EXTENDED].
The conference is free and open to all!
Organised by Timo Uotinen, Paul Hamilton and Anna Ilona Rajala.
Kingston Shakespeare Seminar in Theory (KiSSiT) runs seminars and conferences for postgraduate students and early career scholars with an interest in Shakespeare, philosophy and theory. The program is committed to thinking through Shakespeare about urgent contemporary issues in dialogue with the work of past and present philosophers – from Aristotle to Žižek.