Distinguished Visiting Scholar Lecture Two: Brian Cummings, “Shakespeare and the Reformation”
Thursday 13 February 2014
Chapel, Old Victoria College
Victoria University in the University of Toronto
91 Charles St. West
This is the second of two talks that Distinguished Visiting Scholar Brian Cummings will present. Professor Cummings’ first public lecture, “Encyclopaedic Erasmus“, will occur on 11 February 2014.
“Religion is the last great mystery of Shakespeare studies. For most of the last century, Shakespeare was regarded as a quintessentially secular author, while attributing religious belief to him was a kind of blasphemy. In the past few years a counter-argument has been made associating Shakespeare with the recusant Catholicism of Elizabethan England. Such issues have run aground in the frustrating remains of his personal biography. This lecture asks whether we could take a different approach to the legacy of the Reformation in Shakespeare. Rather than seeking the miasma of individual faith as a key to dramatic meaning, I investigate instead the burden of religious change and controversy on fundamental questions of identity and the human body. Looking at a variety of different plays, I show how the transformations in the rituals of everyday life are constantly present in the dynamic forces of Shakespeare’s theatre in performance.”
Brian Cummings is Anniversary Professor at the University of York in the Department of English and Related Literature. He works on Renaissance literature, and also writes on the history of religion, the history of the book, modern poetry, and the philosophy of literature. His books include The Literary Culture of the Reformation: Grammar and Grace (2002), and an edition of The Book of Common Prayer, a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year in 2011. In 2013 this edition appeared in a World’s Classics paperback, along with two new books: Mortal Thoughts: Religion, Secularity & Identity in Shakespeare and Early Modern Culture (OUP); and Passions & Subjectivity in Early Modern Culture, edited with Freya Sierhuis (Ashgate). He was previously Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Professor of English at the University of Sussex, and has also held Visiting Fellowships at the Huntington Library, California, the Center for Advanced Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich, and Christ Church, Oxford. He held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, 2009-12, and in 2012 gave the Clarendon Lectures at Oxford University, with the title Bibliophobia.
For past Distinguished Visiting Scholars, please visit http://crrs.ca/events/dvs/