"Hast any philosophy in thee?"[1]:
Subjecting Shakespeare to the Risks of Philosophy

International Conference (in French and English languages):
Thursday 17th-Friday 18th MARCH 2016 – 400TH Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death

Co-organised by Pr. Pascale Drouet (Department of English Studies, University of Poitiers) and Pr. Philippe Grosos (Department of Philosophy, University of Poitiers), under the auspices of research laboratories

With the participation of the Students from the Poitiers Conservatory of Drama, dir. Agnès Delume: Voicing Shakespeare's texts translated into French by Yves Bonnefoy,

Scientific Committee


Although Shakespeare wasn't a philosopher and in his work he showed little explicit interest in philosophy, whether ancient philosophy or in the thinkers of his time, his status in the philosophical world is decidedly different. Indeed, even if the reception of his work by philosophers wasn't immediate, since the 19th century Shakespeare has attracted considerable attention, notably among major German philosophers such as Hegel, Nietzsche and Schelling. This fascination has continued into our age, to the extent that Jacques Derrida's interest in the author of Hamlet has led to rich exchanges of ideas.[2]

What do all these philosophers find in Shakespeare's work, if not philosophy itself? It could certainly be argued, first of all, that behind all these important thinkers (and a great poet and playwright is an important thinker) lies an implicit philosophy. In this respect, to consider Shakespeare philosophically would involve a reappraisal of his philosophical assumptions regarding fundamental concepts, and an examination of his sense of modernity in the transition from the 16th to the 17th century.

Secondly, a philosophical approach to Shakespeare also takes seriously the description that he gave in his own work of the human condition, which embraces all of philosophical anthropology. In this regard, it involves not only studying Shakespeare in his time, but also in all time, in the hypothetical timelessness that he postulates. Thus the role of the conference is threefold:

Lastly, subjecting Shakespeare to the risks of philosophy involves rigorous conceptual interpretations, including, perhaps, reading more into his work than he would have intended. But isn't that also a sign of the greatest thinkers, to be credited for more than they actually wrote? In the end, philosophizing about Shakespeare will also lead to a consideration of philosophy itself, with its pretention of putting into words and taking the risk to see what is always elusive and ever to be questioned. This is the dual requirement—the double risk—of this conference.

Bibliographical Suggestions


Proposals, with a short notice on contributor, are to be sent by June 15th 2015 to pascale.drouet@univ-poitiers.fr & philippe.grosos@univ-poitiers.fr



[1] William Shakespeare, As You Like It, ed. Alan Brissenden, Oxford, OUP, 1993 : Acte III, scène 2, 21.

[2] Cf. Shakespeare and Derrida, The Oxford Literary Review 34.1 (2012), Edinburgh University Press, http://www.euppublishing.com/toc/olr/34/1; Jacques Derrida, Spectres de Marx, Paris, Galilée, 2006.