Skip to content

Panel 2.

Changing perspectives on Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s religious afterlives

By focusing on specific case studies, and by implementing the critical tools of reception theory and cultural studies, this panel delves into the conference theme by revealing how different religious readings of Shakespeare from the eighteenth century to nowadays can significantly change the way his works are critically perceived and variously recreated and performed.

Jonathan P. A. Sell (Universidad de Alcalá, Spain)

The late seventeenth and much of the eighteenth century in England were a period of often violent doctrinal dispute. The same period saw Shakespeare’s canonization as England’s divine genius, his works becoming “a kind of established religion in poetry” (Arthur Murphy, 1757). This paper shows how John Boyle, 5th Earl of Orrery’s, comments on Shakespeare (1759) are illustrative of the impact of religious controversy on Shakespeare criticism.

Marta Cerezo (UNED, Spain)

Cerezo’s paper will revisit the First Folio and focus on the connections between the volume, religion, and commemoration by paying attention to the religious ceremony that celebrated the First Folio Tercentenary in the UK in 1923 in the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury where Heminge and Condell are buried and where, in 1896, a memorial was set in the churchyard in honour of both editors.

Isabel Guerrero (UNED, Spain)

This paper will focus on the production Henry V (2017) by the British company Antic Disposition establishing a connection between the battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare’s play and the First World War. Antic Disposition performed the play in eight cathedrals across the UK. Guerrero will explore the influence of the religious setting on Shakespeare performance and reception, the historical, ideological and spiritual implications of the performance space, and how the idea of “civic Shakespeare” (Edmondson and Fernie 2018) applies to performances in religious venues.

Luis Conejero-Magro (Universidad de Extremadura, Spain)

This paper will analyse the religious iconography or symbolism of Shakespeare’s topical names in Love’s Labour’s Lost and will try to elucidate the stylistic and cultural function of the biblical references underpinning the speeches and the names of the characters of this play. By doing so, Conejero-Magro will inquire into the question of the function of Catholicism in Post-Reformation England, after analysing the onomastic allusions to wars of religion in the play.