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Shakespeare 400 Years after the First Folio

Convenor: Agnieszka Romanowska-Kowalska (Jagiellonian University)

In autumn 2023 it will be four hundred years since the famous first edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays entered the Stationers’ Register. In his introductory poem facing Droeshout’s portrait of the author, Ben Jonson encouraged readers to “looke / Not on his picture, but his Booke,” and his call echoed the editors’ letter “To the great Variety of Readers” – “Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe,” which we have done ardently right down to the present day.

The First Folio anniversary coinciding with April Conference Fifteen, the organisers hope to bring together scholars interested in discussing this panel’s main topic: How do we read Shakespeare four centuries after the First Folio? Examples such as Measure for Measure or The Rape of Lucrece interpreted in the context of #MeToo Movement, fictional biography like Maggie O’Farrell’s 2020 Hamnet, the BBC mini-series ShakespeaRe-Told (2005) or the Hogarth Shakespeare project (initiated in 2013), in which well-known writers retell selected plays as novels, testify that we continue to read Shakespeare in relation to the most topical issues, fears and challenges of our time. In this panel we welcome papers on all aspects of the contemporary reception of Shakespeare, both literary and theatrical. How have his plays, as well as non-dramatic poetry, been understood, interpreted, staged, adapted, and translated since the turn of the new millennium?