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Lorna Hutson is Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St. Andrews. Her research interests are in the rhetorical bases of Renaissance literature, and in the relationship between literary form and the formal aspects of non-literary culture. Recent work includes the delivery of the Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures, 2012, on ‘Circumstantial Shakespeare’, the editing of Ben Jonson’s Discoveries (1641) for the Cambridge Complete Works of Ben Jonson (2012) and The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (OUP, 2007, pbk 2011). Lorna has also worked on Ben Jonson, on early modern women's writing, on friendship, and on usury.

Detail Summary
Date 17 October 2013
Time 17:00 - 18:00

From the eighteenth century to the present it has been generally assumed that Shakespeare’s plots are relatively unimportant compared with his characters. Samuel Johnson – followed by many others – argued that improbabilities and infelicities in Shakespeare’s plots were ascribable to his following the unnecessary circumstantial byways of chronicle and romance, and that these improbabilities were redeemed by the compelling humanity of his ‘characters’. I will argue the opposite. Shakespeare’s ‘characters’ seem worthy of our continuing exploration because of the circumstantial design of the plots into which they are written, and because these ‘circumstances’, understood not as empirical facts but as rhetorical topics of argument, continually stimulate our judgement of probability into acts of imagination.

 

Location: room 004 at the Bungehuis, Spuistraat 210

This lecture is made possible by support from the following institutes:
Amsterdam Centre for the Study of the Golden Age
Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity
Institute for Culture and History