Shakespeare and Education

Seminar description
Abstracts of papers

Convenor: Boika Sokolova


The creation and perpetuation of cultural myths is linked to the powerful ways they are promoted by educational institutions. As a consequence, the study of Shakespeare's appropriation by European culture cannot be full and comprehensive without the study of the dissemination, through the channels of education, of images and meanings, which are of surprising permanence. The heated debate in Britain, concerning Shakespeare's place in the National Curriculum during the late 1980s and 1990s, which sparked a major controversy and highlighted a number of problems, ranging from the methodology to the ideology of teaching, is only a recent example of the importance of educational issues.
Shakespeare's place in European education has long been secure and though publications on aspects of it are not rare, there has not been a serious recent effort to study the role of education in creating Shakespeare as a cultural icon.

The papers are dealing with:


Shakespeare in national systems of education


The persistence of interpretational models/continuity of received ideas


Ideologies and their effect on Shakespeare's place in education


Shakespeare's role, if any, in the creation of local or supra-national cultural identities


Children's editions of Shakespeare's plays and the ways they are used to create models and values


The influence of film on education


Topics related to the wider appreciation of the impact of education on Shakespeare as a cultural sign of European importance



Joanna Montgomery Byles (University of Cyprus, Lefkosia, Greece): "Shakespeare and Theatres of War"
abstract / paper

Carla Dente (University of Pisa, Italy): "Studying the reception of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the theatre: a hypertext of nineteenth-century promptbooks as teaching material"
abstract / paper

Renate Haas (Kiel University, Germany): "The 'Ruhrfestspiele': European Shakespeare &endash; Industrial and Post-Industrial"
abstract / paper

Refik Kadija (Tirana University, Albania): "The Role Of Education In Creating A Shakespeare Cultural Icon In Albania"
abstract / paper

Ishrat Lindblad (Uppsala University, Stockholm, Sweden)
"'In the Company of Shakespeare' - a cultural and educational project in Stockholm" abstract / paper


Joanna Montgomery Byles (University of Cyprus, Lefkosia, Greece)
Shakespeare and Theatres of War

Why is it that Troilus and Cressida has become the anti-war play for our times? After all Shakespeare wrote other plays about war, such as the HenryVI triology dramatizing the so-called Wars of the Roses in England in the 14th century, in which there is a particularly harrowing scene of civil war where a father unknowingly kills his son, and a son his father, and then there is the vastly popular Henry V dramatizing the English victory at Agincourt. Yet, starting with William Poel's 1903 production it is Troilus and Cressida that holds the stage in the twentieth century, especially after World War Two.

As I hope my paper will suggest, the answer lies in our changed and changing attitudes to war, to the military and to militarism; our healthy suspicion of heroes, our distaste for any glamour or glory associated with battle, and our general and collective sense of guilt for the atrocious military history of our own century. Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Cyprus, Lefkosia, Eastern Mediterranean.

Carla Dente (University of Pisa, Italy)
Studying the reception of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the theatre: a hypertext of nineteenth-century promptbooks as teaching material

The paper is an opportunity to reflect critically on the production and use of an hypertext made of those promptbooks that are considered as landmarks for the transmission of Hamlet text in the theatre in the nineteenth century.
This structured archive has been produced with the help of the students and used for teaching within the 2000-01 course of History of English Theatre and Drama. It has been planned to make it available on line for departemental use.
The paper will deal with the inclusion of G.B. in a discourse on the circulation of Shakespeare's texts as theatre icons in 19th -cent. Europe.

Renate Haas (Kiel University, Germany)
The "Ruhrfestspiele": European Shakespeare &endash; Industrial and Post-Industrial

The "Europäisches Festival Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen" holds a prominent position within Germany and, awarded the title of "Kulturbühne Europas" by the European Commission, it even claims to be the political festival of the continent. It arose out of "coal for art, art for coal": guest performances of the great Hamburg theatres in the summer of 1947 in return for generous help with coal in the preceding severe winter. It was instituted by the Confederation of Trade Unions and the City of Recklinghausen in contradistinction to middle and upper class tradition (Bayreuth, Salzburg) and soon attracted the broadest public support. Various other items were added, among them "Europäische Gespräche" as early as 1950.
Although the founding myth highlights the prototypical industrial worker, the miner, the Ruhr Festival was, from the start, aimed at the whole working population. Established even prior to the two German States in one of the world's largest single industrial regions, it widened the access to culture and education many years before the first local universities and thus contributed to a development which has helped people to meet the challenge of the "Second" and "Third Industrial Revolutions".
With unique clarity, the Ruhr Festival mirrors the course of West Germany and, particularly, the concepts of culture and education prevalent in a large and important sector of society. It epitomizes factors which have characterized the reconstruction of Germany and, beyond it, in varying degrees, the postwar "New Europe": social cooperation, solid expansion of education, and early European orientation.
Since 1949, Shakespeare has played a vital part in the Ruhr Festival; second only to Brecht, during its first fifty years. The paper will trace Shakespeare's role through the various stages, with special emphasis on the last: from the early phase when only the best was considered good enough for the workers; via narrow, ideological TU concepts of culture, from the late 60s onwards; to the emphatic European orientation under Hansgünther Heyme.

Refik Kadija (Tirana University, Albania)
The Role Of Education In Creating A Shakespeare Cultural Icon In Albania

My paper will focus on the ideological and cultural effects in the treatment of Shakespeare in Albanian education before and after the fall of communism, i.e. before and after 1990; the place of Shakespeare in the Albanian national system of education; the influence of film versions of Shakespeare's works (tragedies and comedies) in creating Shakespeare icons in Albania; the relationship of teaching, translation and performace of Shakespeare's works and their role in cultivating Shakespeare icons in Albania.

Ishrat Lindblad (Uppsala University, Stockholm, Sweden)
"In the Company of Shakespeare" - a cultural and educational project in Stockholm

The aim of this paper is to present and discuss a unique long-term project to introduce Shakespeare in English to Swedish schoolchildren that began tentatively under the leadership of the director and choreographer, Donya Feuer in September 1990, reached a climax in 1998 when Stockholm was cultural capital of Europe, and continues at the present time as a joint project between the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden (Dramaten), Kulturhuset in Stockholm and the Teacher's Training College in Stockholm (Lärarhögskolan).


Shakespeare in European Culture
Basel, November 2001
conference proceedings

Shakespeare in Europe
University of Basel, Switzerland
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last changes: November 2001