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Hamlet and Emotions: Then and Now

Date: 10–11 April 2017
Venue: St Catherine’s College, The University of Western Australia
Enquiries: Paul Megna (paul.megna@uwa.edu.au)
Organisers: Paul Megna and Bob White
Registration: This is a free event, but registration is required. Register online here.

Download call for papers flyer


Ian McEwan’s recent novel Nutshell (2016), in which Hamlet is an unborn foetus, is only the latest in a line of appropriations of Shakespeare’s plays stretching back to 1600. Hamlet itself stretches beyond the seventeenth century, drawing on sources that date back to twelfth-century Denmark, and referring within itself to relics of older drama that Shakespeare may have seen as a boy in Stratford. Hamlet looks both backwards and forwards in time. The play also covers a remarkable range of emotional states, including anger, love, hatred, grief, melancholy and despair. Indeed, Hamlet stages a plethora of emotional practices: a funeral and a marriage, a vindictive ghost in purgatory, a young woman whose mental equilibrium has been dislodged by the murder of her father by her own erstwhile lover, an inscrutable monarch under suspicion of murder, a couple of mordantly cheerful gravediggers, and a young prince back from university and grieving for his deceased father. This symposium invites new readings of the play, focusing on any aspect of its emotional life in the widest sense.

We envisage papers from a range of disciplines and points of view, which may contribute to any of the Centre’s four research programs – Meanings, Change, Performance or Shaping the Modern. Some possible areas of discussion are mentioned below, but they are by no means exclusive. We aim at producing a book proposal, so completed papers ready for publication will save time when approaching a publisher. Please send proposals for 20-minute papers, including a title
and presenter details, to Paul Megna (paul.megna.uwa.edu.au) by Tuesday 28 February 2017.

International visitors

  • Kevin Curran (University of Lausanne)
  • Richard Meek (University of Hull)
  • Kathryn Prince (University of Ottawa)
  • Naya Tsentourou (University of Exeter)

Possible topics

  • How scholarship on the history of the emotions
    can help us to better understand Hamlet and vice
  • Emotional regimes, communities and practices in
  • Emotions and language
  • Hamlet, melancholy and depression
  • Female consciousness
  • Revenge and anger in Hamlet
  • Hamlet and non-Shakespearean Elizabethan and
    Jacobean theatre and literature
  • Emotional accounts of the afterlife and other
    religious ideas in Hamlet
  • Hamlet’s emotional medievalism and allusions to
    medieval drama
  • Nostalgia in Hamlet, as well as nostalgia for
    Hamlet in adaptations, appropriations and
  • Gendered emotion in Hamlet and its descendants
  • Emotional reactions to Hamlet through the
  • Hamlet’s influence on theories of emotion
  • Emotions in adaptations of Hamlet (including
    novels, movies, popular culture).
  • Staging of passions, perturbations, affections, etc.