The British Academy Shakespeare Lecture at Liverpool Uni

Shakespeare lecture at the University of Liverpool Victoria Gallery and Museum

The British Academy Shakespeare Lecture will take place at the University on Monday 1 June 2009

Professor John Kerrigan from the University of Cambridge will lecture on Shakespeare, Oaths and Vows in the Victoria Gallery & Museum at 5.30pm

Professor Kerrigan gave this years annual British Academy Shakespeare Lecture in London on 23 April, the traditionally observed anniversary of Shakespeares birth and death. In addition to the London lecture, the lecturer can also choose to give the lecture in another location and as a local man, Professor Kerrigan has chosen to give this prestigious lecture at the University of Liverpool.

The language-world of early modern England was thick with oaths and vows, ranging from casual profanity in taverns to the solemn undertakings of those marrying or accepting public office. Moralists urged the seriousness of oaths; casuists advised on how to undo them. There were religious, legal and philosophical debates about what it meant to swear and how firmly one should keep a promise.

The literature of the time reflects the prevalence of oaths and vows and the arguments about their status. But Shakespeare was exceptional in the density, depth and subtlety with which he explored these issues. His plays and poems are full of oaths and vows doing structural, psychological and verbally minute, inventive work. This lecture will seek to rectify scholarly neglect of the topic, highlighting Shakespeare’s awareness of the paradoxes of oath-taking and vowing and their potency in performance. The aim is not just to elucidate a key element of his artistry but to understand more ful!
ly his general construction of human experience.

Registration is not required for this event and everyone is welcome.