“Shakespearean Landscapes”, Fourth Denis Cosgrove Lecture in the GeoHumanities, British Academy, 23 May 2019

I am delighted to have been invited to give the fourth Denis Cosgrove Lecture in the GeoHumanities. The lecture is organised by the Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities, and will take place at the British Academy in London, on 23 May 2019 at 6pm.

I didn’t know Denis well, but I was a visiting professor at UCLA in 2006, while he was teaching there. The 2018 lecture was given by the art historian Joan Schwartz (Queens, Canada), the 2017 lecture by performance scholar and practitioner Dee Heddon (Glasgow), and the 2016 lecture by Jerry Brotton (QMUL). It’s a real honour to be asked.

As was requested, the topic will related to my work on Shakespeare, but while I will draw on my previous work in Shakespearean Territories I do plan to develop some further ideas. The title I’ve given the organisers is “Shakespearean Landscapes”, which naturally connects to some of Denis’s best-known work.

This lecture explores how Shakespeare’s plays evoke a sense of landscape. Shakespeare’s grasp of specific geographies could be shaky, but his plays are rich with a range of geographical themes, language and detail. Shakespeare lived and wrote at a time of colonial exploration and saw the development of many cartographic, navigational and land-measuring techniques. The lecture builds on the argument of my recent book, Shakespearean Territories, but explores a different yet related geographical theme – that of landscape. This is of course a theme which Denis Cosgrove examined so perceptively. The plays discussed will include some of Shakespeare’s most famous, such as Macbeth and King Lear, and lesser known ones including Timon of Athens.


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