Yesterday I went up to Purchase College, SUNY to give a talk at a workshop on Thinking with Shakespeare Today. Organised by Morris Kaplan, there were four papers:
- “Shakespeare and Theatrical Conversions” – Michele Osherow, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre.
- “Shakespeare and the Annunciation: the Dis-enchantment of the Early Modern World”- Gary Waller, Purchase College SUNY
- “The Wounds of Coriolanus: On Candor & Authority” – Roy Tsao, Brooklyn College
- “‘We are enforced to farm our royal realm’: Laws, Economies, and Territories in Richard II” – Stuart Elden, University of Warwick
It was good to return to Richard II, which is a key part of the project of Shakespearean Territories. The paper was only about 28 minutes, so some key parts had to be cut out, but there is a longer written draft in place. You can listen to an audio recording here.
The play is one of only handful by Shakespeare which includes the word ‘territories’, and only once, but, as I suggested, the question of what we now call territory runs much more deeply through the play. I tried to cover the key issues of banishment, pilgrimage, political economy of land, rent, and the rebellion in Ireland. The recurrent language of earth, land, ground is important in the play, as is the repeated threat of blood soaking into the soil.