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This November we open the playhouse doors to two rising stars of Shakespeare studies to offer up new thoughts, musings and revelations on Shakespearean times and texts. Each speaker will share their research in a 20 minute presentation followed by open discussion.
This year’s youths that thunder are Dr Iman Sheeha, Lecturer in Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at Brunel University and Dr Jennifer Edwards, Lecturer and Research co-ordinator at the Globe and visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Jennifer’s talk will be exploring portrayals of ecstasy in Shakespeare’s texts and Iman will be speaking about the symbolism of women at windows and other boundaries of domestic spaces in Early Modern drama.
Open to all interested audience members who are curious to learn more about the research done around Shakespeare’s work, These are the Youths that Thunder offers a rare opportunity to dip your toe into the illuminating world of Shakespeare scholarship and learn a little bit more about the ideas and stories behind some of his most brilliant plays.
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‘Trembling Ecstasy’: Feeling Ecstatic in Shakespeare’s Drama – Dr Jennifer Edwards
What does it mean to be ‘ecstatic’? For Shakespeare, the word ‘ecstasy’ is largely at odds with our modern understanding of the term as meaning ‘intense delight’, acting as an umbrella term for a variety of lived and felt experiences from madness to grief, falling in love to violent medical seizure. Tracing ‘ecstasy’ through Shakespeare’s work, this paper highlights the ecstatic experience as encompassing a range of emotions and feelings, before turning to consider what Shakespearean ecstasy feels like. As Shakespeare’s ecstatic subjects reveal, this was an experience that could leave lovers trembling with pleasure or quaking with fear: one which could set the pulse racing, or stop it altogether…
‘Mistress, look out at window:’ Women, Servants and Liminal Domestic Spaces in The Merchant of Venice – Dr Iman Sheeha
The significance of the trope of the woman at the window in early modern culture and literature has already been productively examined by a number of literary critics, social and art historians. My particular contribution to this discussion consists of two parts. Firstly, I view windows as constituting one aspect of the bigger category of the liminal. As such, I consider windows alongside such other liminal domestic spaces as doors and gates, focusing on the way they represent points of weakness, spaces that rendered the house permeable, open and thus vulnerable. Secondly, I explore the relationship of these liminal domestic spaces to two, rather than one, domestic members, the mistress of the household and the domestic servant. Focusing on The Merchant of Venice, I argue that the play evokes threats and anxieties about the domestic space at moments of crucial dramatic importance.