Professor Ewan Fernie, Shakespeare Institute, will be appearing at the Hay Festival on Tuesday 28 May at 10am, discussing teaching Shakespeare today.
His talk will look at how when teaching Shakespeare scholarly, biographical and historical context are often best left to one side. The way to ‘get’ and enjoy Shakespeare is to read him with imagination and intensity. Given the chance, many students are very good at this. To exemplify the kind of thing that can be done in class, we will ask why, when her husband-to-be walks on stage in The Tempest, Miranda says, ‘What is it?’ We will plumb the deeper meanings of Iago’s most troublingly resonant utterance: ‘I am not what I am’. And we will face up afresh to the difficulty and danger of Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy.
The talk will end with Measure for Measure’s Angelo and his agonised recognition of the ‘sin in loving virtue’. This will bring it into conjunction with Professor Fernie’s recent book The Demonic: Literature and Experience, but it will also help to emphasise that in reading Shakespeare we equally are—or should be—journeying into the perils and promise of our own lives.
As well as teaching on the undergraduate English BA Shakespeare module at Birmingham, and on various postgraduate programmes at the Institute, Professor Fernie devised and co-convenes the University’s new MA and PhD in Shakespeare and Creativity.
Tickets for this talk, and other talks featuring in the Birmingham Speakers at Hay series, are available directly from the Hay Festival.