Publié le 18 mai 2021 Mis à jour le 18 mai 2021

Mercredi 8 avril 2020 : Rachel E. Holmes (University College London) : « Romancing the Law : Genre as a Legal Space in Shakespeare ».

When we think about genre and Shakespeare, we might think from a historicist perspective about the division of the First Folio into tragedies, comedies, and histories. Or, we might think (even more) retrospectively about tragicomedies or problem plays, late plays or romances. All of these terms speak to the categorisation of plays, but what happens when we think about how genre is working in Shakespeare’s works ? Jacques Derrida insists that ‘as soon as genre announces itself, one must respect a norm, one must not cross a line of demarcation, one must not risk impurity, anomaly, or monstrosity’. Drawing on Derrida’s argument that generic classifications are prohibitive to interpretation, I contend that in Shakespeare’s case, they detrimentally elide the generic ‘impurity’ of his works. Derrida calls the rigidity of this inviolable system ‘the law of genre’ and therefore explicitly invites the metaphorical association with Laws (in a legal sense) and their transgression. This figurative connection between genre and law drives this paper ; in particular, I will develop the idea that genre functions as a legal space. By this I mean not only by working within its own laws, but also by negotiating legal questions. Taking A Midsummer Night’s Dream as my example—a play housed with the comedies in the Folio—I will show how Shakespeare’s play thrives on uncertainty and indeterminacy at both the level of plot and of genre. Focusing on the play’s marriage plot(s) and intertextual connection with the Ovidian tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, I will demonstrate how this indeterminacy is driven by the legal uncertainties of early modern marriage and explore the ways in which comedy’s generic demands are playfully frustrated by this play’s ‘participation in’, to borrow Derrida’s term, other generic modes.

Mercredi 5 février 2020 : Bernard Cottret (Université Versailles Saint Quentin) : « Discussion autour de la dynastie Tudor ».

La dynastie Tudor, qui occupa le trône d’Angleterre de 1485 à 1603, a marqué l’histoire de l’île : s’il on retient le nom d’Henri VIII ou d’Elisabeth I, cette famille royale s’est distinguée par la succession de monarques atypiques, en l’occurrence un mineur de 10 ans et deux femmes. Bernard Cottret nous propose son éclairage sur cette période dans son ouvrage Les Tudors. La démesure et la gloire (Perrin, 2019). Dans le cadre de cette discussion, nous aborderons également la Renaissance, par le biais, entre autres, de son ouvrage intitulé La Renaissance, 1492-1598 : civilisation et barbarie (Éditions de Paris-Max Chaleil, 2000).

Mercredi 6 novembre 2019 : John Gillies (University of Essex) : « Towards a poetics of the early modern sky ».

As part of a wider project on the phenomenology of the early modern sky (which asks how the sky is presented to us by the senses), this paper considers a poetics of the sky. The difference is that whereas phenomenology tries to reduce an object or impression to its bare minimum as percept, a poetics is attentive to the feeling tone that the object inspires in us. Here I propose that the sky in this period – whether idea or symbol – is pervaded by anxiety. Paradoxically this anxiety was indistinguishable from new spatial technologies of mapping and perspective. The paper begins by considering a notably unanxious medieval symbolism of the sky (in the gothic cathedral) and compares it with anxious early modern counterparts : sky imagery in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Breugel’s Fall of Icarus, and Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is not just that the imagery of the sky differs from medieval to early modern construct, but that the difference is worked out on the basis of a common terminology and tradition.