The transformations Shakespearean drama has undergone across an increasingly complex world allow us to glimpse the rich potential for subversion and renewal within his work. In travelling around the globe, traditional Shakespeare has been dismantled and reimagined, and the result is illuminating for contemporary cultural studies attuned to the dynamics of an unequal world. At this conference, scholars and performing arts practitioners will explore the ways in which ‘Shakespeare’ (in all its forms) can engage the problem of social inequality (in all its forms). We seek to reflect on the creative and critical impact of Shakespearean confrontations with the injustice that is born of uneven access to economic and cultural capital, however this unevenness may be identified.

The conference offers an opportunity to re-evaluate the ideological underpinnings of our lexicon: for example, we might ask, does the ‘global’ in ‘global Shakespeare’ simply register the position from which one speaks? Does it silently affirm the relationship between an imagined ‘here’ and an ‘elsewhere’, reaffirming as it does so the privileged spaces of the North? Or can ‘global Shakespeare’ operate as a kind of methodology, enabling greater critical acuity, rather than remaining a subfield of Shakespeare studies?

Furthermore, in what new ways might scholars and performing arts practitioners marshal the subversive possibilities within the works? How might these, in turn, inform the teaching of Shakespeare at secondary or tertiary level? What critical resources and what vocabularies are most productive for scholars to be able to offer astute, politically inflected scholarship that will allow us to attend to matters of social justice?

Key modes of inquiry:

* performance
* critical lexicon
* social and economic justice
* the vectors of race, gender and sexuality
* pedagogy
* global Shakespeare, the ‘South’ and the ‘North’


Ayanna Thompson

Our keynote speaker is Ayanna Thompson of Arizona State University.

Her talk, on “Shakespeare and Blackface”, will take place on Thursday 16th May at 17:00. This event is open to the public.

You can read more about Professor Thompson here.

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The Fugard Theatre

The conference will be held at the Fugard Theatre in District Six, Cape Town. Find out more about this wonderful venue and its history.

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UPDATE: Programme of events and other information

Please note that registration for the conference has closed.

For delegates who are visiting Cape Town for the first time, this guide provides some useful information.

An outline of the conference programme is now available, along with a schedule of papers for the 17th and 18th May.