Shakespeare's Mythologies: Heroes, Heroines, and the Ambivalence of Power
Barbara Acker, professor emerita, School of Film, Dance, and Theatre ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Sharonah Fredrick, assistant director, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Margaret Knapp, professor emerita, School of Film, Dance, and Theatre, ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
James Wermers, digital humanities course manager, ASU College of Letters & Sciences
This four-way, interactive conversation centers on one of the most provocative aspects of Shakespeare: his ambivalence, his refusal to give us the simplistic answers that later theatre-and cinema-would supply us. Whether it is monarchy and the attitude towards divine right vs. the people’s rights, and the moral depravity evident on both sides; or religious intolerance and stereotyping of the other, when even the Bard’s most unflinching prejudice opens a door to questioning of those precepts, Shakespeare’s ambiguity becomes our own. His difficulty in dealing with these problems are the gateway to the Modern world, one in which science and obscurantism collided and continue to collide. Shakespeare’s ambivalence-ideologically, morally, politically-is one of the components that have enabled directors to adopt sharply differing approaches to the same plays; Shakespeare’s appropriation of varying cultural motifs, an early form of cultural tourism, can serve conciliatory or hostile ends, depending on the point of view of the staging. This evening’s symposium will analyze the complexity of a poet and playwright whose refusal to be easily categorized is one of his most enduring, and stimulating, qualities.