SHINE: Shakespeare in Europe:

History and Memory

International Conference

Krakow, 17-20 November 2005
Organised by:
Institute of English Philology, Jagiellonian University
Polish Shakespeare Society
Institute of Modern Languages, Pedagogical University in Kraków
In cooperation with the British Council

Seminar: History and Politics

Convenor: Madalina Nicolaescu, University of Bucharest
Participants & abstracts


  • The goal of our seminar will be to open up the discussion of Shakespeare’s engagement with politics of history and politics in history to a larger and more inclusive European perspective.  We would like to focus upon the “Continental” political context of both the production and the subsequent reception of Shakespeare’s historical representations.
  • We would like to include in our analysis next to the plays representing English history, also plays addressing political issues  in “other histories” – Scottish, Roman or Continental.


  • Going along these lines, it would be useful to place Shakespeare’s representations of historical events not only within the context of English politics of his time but to investigate the awareness, transparent in the plays, of England’s involvement in European politics.  What was the significance of the continental political and religious context to the events shown on the stage?
  • In what ways did the views and positions of  European political historians, such as Lipsius, Guicciardini, Bodin, and Machiavelli inform Shakespeare’s understanding of the relation between history and power politics? 
  • References to non-Shakespearean plays ( Marlowe, Greene, Munday or, later on, Heywood, Chapman, Dekker, Webster)  and to European history plays can provide useful comparative views on Shakespeare’s political uses of historical material.


  • This seminar would like to attach equal importance to “Shakespeare’s afterlife” and to the study of the political uses of history in the subsequent readings of the plays in Britain and in continental Europe. Papers are welcome on theatrical performances, on critical studies (reviews but also academic works) and particularly on what tends to be neglected -- translations as a form of (re)reading the plays.
  • The early modern English approach to history was largely based upon analogy with the present.  Subsequent readings of Shakespeare’s plays display a similar tendency as they identify political allegories of the present in the configurations of the past  represented in his plays.  If we pit the two allegorical, analogical readings against each other, i.e. Shakespeare’s political, presenteist uses of the past versus later appropriations of his representations of that past, what similarities can one trace? What changes and displacements have been introduced in the process of  localizing and  re-politicizing the plays?


List of Participants and abstracts

Kennan, Patricia (Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy;
"The Positioning of History for the English Renaissance Theatre" (abstract)

Szymczak, Piotr (University of Warsaw;
"Fire in Her Eyes: Book Destruction as an Element of the Dramatic Code in Early Modern England" (abstract)

Vanwesenbeeck, Iclal Caetin (State University New York;
(no title) (abstract)

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The conference gets financial support from:

ACUME, the  European Thematic Network for Cultural Memory in European Countries
Institute of English Philology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Rector of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków



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Shakespeare in Europe
University of Basel, Switzerland

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last changes: November 2005