SEM 29/01/2021: G. Stanivukovic, “Shakespeare’s Earliest styles”, 5.40 pm

The first session of the Paris Early Modern Seminar (PEMS) will be held online on January 29, 2021, from 5.30 to 7.30pm (Paris time):

Goran Stanivukovic, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax: “Shakespeare’s Earliest Styles”

The first cited allusion to Shakespeare, made in the 1592 Greene’s Groat-worth of Wit pamphlet, was a negative inference about the style of writing in his plays. It makes sense, then, to begin a re-assessment of the plays which Shakespeare wrote and co-wrote between arriving in London and the year 1594—the earliest plays—when he became a shareholder in the Chamberlain’s Men playing company and a professional playwright, in terms of style. Admittedly, these plays represent a critical trapdoor for anyone studying the language and styles in his works. The problems of chronology and authorship raise questions for an analysis of personal style in these earliest, linguistically dynamic plays. In my talk, I propose, first, a way of turning these external complications for the study of language into a productive tool for addressing the styles of Shakespeare’s earliest writing in the context of English and European rhetorical culture, the cross-disciplinary 1590s aesthetics, and, specifically, against the background of arguments about multiple authorship which, I argue, enrich rather than constrain the language’s communicative function on stage. Second, I will illustrate this point by examining a few specific examples from the earliest drama, focusing on bombast as a stylistic feature whose multiplicity of forms and uses gave the earliest plays their cognitive authenticity and vivacity, and that moved language into stage scenes. In the end, I address a bigger phenomenological question: what is early in a style of writing. 

Biographical note:

Goran Stanivukovic is a Full Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has previously held lectureship in Shakespeare and English Renaissance Literature at The University of Sheffield and a two-year Marie Curie International Incoming Research Fellowship at University College Cork. Other fellowships have included the Folger, the Huntington, and the Newberry libraries, as well as the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Study. In 2008, he shared the Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for a distinguished publication on Christopher Marlowe. His most recent publications include the monographs Tragedies of the English Renaissance (Edinburgh UP, 2018; with J. Cameron) and Knights in Arms: Prose Romance, Masculinity, and Eastern Mediterranean Trade in Early Modern England, 1565-1655 (U of Toronto P, 2016), and edited collections, Queer Shakespeare: Desire and Sexuality (2017, paperback 2019), Timely Voices: Romance Writing in English Literature (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2017), and Ovid and Masculinity in English Renaissance Literature (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2020, with J. Garrison).    


Aurélie Griffin & Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Sorbonne Nouvelle)