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Distinguished Visiting Fellows' Lecture, June 2016

On 7 June 2016, Global Shakespeare hosted two of Queen Mary University of London's Distinguished Visiting Fellows, Professor Line Cottegnies and Professor Daniel Vitkus.

Professor Line Cottegnies is Professor of English Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3. She is one of the editors of Shakespeare's complete works for the parallel-text Gallimard edition, and as such has edited 15 of his plays. She has translated the three parts of Henry VI into French for the same project. She has also recently edited Henry IV, Part 2 for Norton (2015). She has published widely on Caroline poetry, as well as on women authors of the early modern period such as Margaret Cavendish, Katherine Philips and Aphra Behn. She is currently working on an edition of Mary Sidney Herbert's Antonius and Thomas Kyd's Cornelia, together with M.-A. Belle, to be published in the MHRA Tudor and Stuart Translation Series.

Ever since the discovery of a copy of a Shakespeare first folio in the Saint-Omer library in October 2014, the academic world has been abuzz with speculation about Catholic interest in Shakespeare, and even Shakespeare's possible Catholic connections. There has been much speculation, in particular, about the identity of the mysterious ‘Nevill’ who signed his name on the first page of the book. In this talk, I would like to present some of the problems posed by this book and its history, especially regarding its ownership marks. Besides the inscription Nevill, the book bears another mark, the hand-stamped letters "PS," repeated several times. After describing the bibliographical specificities of this particular Folio I will offer an overview of the material context of the Folio in its original milieu, the Jesuit College library, or what is left of it in the municipal library. After a thorough investigation of the rare books collections in the Saint-Omer library, it is now possible to know more about two local contexts for the folio in the library, by analyzing its presence against two sets of books which have emerged : the first one with the signature "Nevill", and the second with the "PS" stamp.

'The Shakespeare First Folio of Saint-Omer and the Jesuits: the Bibliographical Evidence'


Professor Daniel Vitkus earned a Master's Degree in English Language and Literature at Oxford University (Hertford College) and his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has published numerous articles on Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, and early modern travel writing. He edits The Journal for Early modern Cultural Studies and is the author of Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570-1630 and the editor of Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England and a critical edition of Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England. Since 2013, he has taught in the Literature Department at the University oif California at San Diego where he is the Rebeca Hickel Chair of Early Modern Literature.

Homi Bhabha has stated that “all forms of culture are continually in a process of hybridity” that “displaces the histories that constitute it, and sets up new structures of authority, new political initiatives…. The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation.” My subject matter in this talk will be certain manifestations of a process of hybridity--the dynamic and mutually informing relations between “English” culture (which was itself incoherent and never existed in a monocultural bubble) and what Immanuel Wallerstein calls “geoculture”--that complex and unstable system of circulating texts, commodities and persons that is constantly at work shaping local cultures by attracting attention, emulation or reaction. The London theater itself was “a new area of negotiation’” one of the first local institutions of a global capitalist system. This system emerged as a result of economic phenomena that connected London with a world-wide commercial and geocultural matrix. My focus will be on the London theater and the early modern era, but I will show how that theater was a node in a network of cultural production that was global in scope. If the early modern era is a time connected to our own by the subsequent history of capitalism, imperialism and globalization, then we can locate traces and signs of these emergent structures in the theatrical representation of such powerful emergent forces, forces that shocked, excited and disrupted English culture. In the cultural artifacts of early modern England, including Shakespeare’s plays, we can discern signs of a “negotiation.“

Shakespeare, the London Theater, and the Origins of Globalization