Shakespeare’s plays were conceived and first performed in a climate of religious and political change, when private beliefs always had a public dimension and when religious allegiance had literally become a matter of life and death for many men and women. Our seminar aims at re-assessing the roles of faith and doubt in the public arena of the Shakespearean stage. We are not interested in examining, once again, the question of Shakespeare’s own denomination, we would rather like to enquire into the configurations of belief on the Elizabethan stage:
- Do the plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries support religious devotion or do they invite distrust and scepticism?
- How can faith be established, how can it be perceived and proven?
- When does faith have to be realigned or even recanted?
- Do the plays themselves require faith on a metatheatrical level, as Paulina famously demands in The Winter’s Tale?
- And in how far is it possible to differentiate between religious belief and the suspension of disbelief in the playhouse?
- In what ways do the plays relate to topical religious debates, be it at Shakespeare’s time or today?
- What stance do they take towards more universal metaphysical questions?
- And how do they envision non-Christian religion, which stance do they take, for example, towards Jewish and Muslim beliefs?
- How have specific theatrical (or filmic) performances dealt with the religious aspects of the plays – have they suppressed, emphasised, or altered them?
Our workshop plans to address these and related questions with a panel of six papers during the annual conference of the German Shakespeare Association, Shakespeare-Tage (20-22 April 2012 in Bochum, Germany), which will focus on “Faith and Doubt in Shakespeare’s Plays”. As critical input for the discussion and provocation for debate, panellists are invited to give short statements (of no more than 15 minutes) presenting concrete case studies, concise examples and strong views on the topic.
Please send your proposals (abstracts of 300 words) and all further questions by 15 November 2011 to the seminar convenors:
Dr. Felix Sprang, University of Hamburg, English Department:
Dr. Christina Wald, University of Augsburg, English Department:
See also: shakespeare-gesellschaft.de/publikationen/seminar.html