2005 - Shakespeare in Europe: History and Memory (Krakow)

      The Conference (17-20 November 2005) was organised by the Institute of English Philology, Jagiellonian University Krakow, in cooperation with the Polish Shakespeare Society, and the Institute of Modern Languages, Pedagogical University, Krakow. The Conference followed the earlier events organised in Antwerp, Sofia, Murcia, Basel, and Utrecht, with the general thematic profile of Shakespeare in Europe.

The key-note speakers and lectures were as follows:

All three speakers addressed the problem of history and memory in the inevitable context of politics, albeit in relation to different aspects, times and spaces. The territories they have delineated were examined in greater detail by the colleagues who presented short papers:

During the Conference Ton Hoenselaars (Utrecht) and Maria-Angela Tempera (Ferrara) organised an important presentation of the ACUME Electronic database: “Shakespeare’s History Plays in Europe”. They reported on the work in progress and invited members of the Conference to join the project.

The most vivid and fruitful encounters of the Conference were the meetings of seminars (as one of our colleagues has put it, “they were the beating heart of the Conference”) whose members had worked together in the e-space months before the event in Krakow. This was possible due to the energy and dedication of the seminar leaders to whom deserved praise was effusively expressed at the Conference, and whom I would like once again to thank on this occasion. They were the following:

Madalina Nicolaescu (University of Bucharest) organised the seminar “History and Politics”. The aim of the seminar was to open up a discussion of Shakespeare’s engagement with politics of history and politics in history to a larger and more inclusive European perspective. The seminar was small in numbers, but held extremely vivid debates.

Carla Dente (University of Pisa) organised the seminar “History and Histories”. The starting point was the idea of the memory/history dialectic which was explored by the members of the seminar in three main directions: historical matter and collective memory, individual memory, and literary memory. Since the members represented eight European countries, both the papers and the discussions linked Shakespeare’s plays to broader issues of continental history.

Zoltan Markus (Vassar College) organised the seminar “History and Criticism”. The aim of the seminar was to explore the relevance of history, historicity, and historiography in the study of Shakespeare as well as the role of cultural memory in the production and reception of Shakespeare’s plays in various historical and geographical contexts.

Lawrence Güntner (Technical University Braunschweig) organised the seminar “History and Performance”, by far the most numerous and most popular of all seminars in this Conference. The aim of the seminar was to explore the issues of history as performance and performance as history in order to generate a discourse on how history and performance negotiate meaning within a specific national and/or European historical context.

Cees Koster (University of Utrecht) organised the seminar “History and Translation” with the original intention of exploring the history of Shakespeare translation. Although the members showed more interest in the problems of Shakespeare Translation vs. Shakespeare Studies and Reception, however, the historical aspects of translation were inevitably tackled in the papers and debates.

To sum up the scholarly profile of the Conference, it is important to stress that all speakers, seminar convenors, and seminar participants took the theme of the Conference seriously and tried to focus their work on the directly relevant issues. As a result there was a general feeling of coherence and direction in all Conference gatherings, which led, in turn, to long and enthusiastic discussions carried on during breaks and all social occasions.

The organisers of the Conference are now working on preparing the Conference volume for print. We hope the book will constitute not only a record of this Conference, but also a meaningful study of the questions of history and memory related to European Shakespeare.

Marta Gibinska