Shakespeare Historian to Address Public at USAO March 6

New York Times best selling author and Pulitzer Prize Award finalist Dr. Stephen Greenblatt is making his Chickasha debut March 6 at USAO. At 8 p.m. in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium, Greenblatt will address a public crowd about history's most famous playwright, William Shakespeare. As part of the annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium, the evening event is free and open to the public.

Shakespeare Historian to Address Public at USAO March 6


CHICKASHA -- Literary historian Stephen Greenblatt revealed a glimpse of William Shakespeare's rise to fame in his New York Times best selling book, " Will in the World." On March 6, the Harvard professor will visit Chickasha for an afternoon and evening presentation about history's most famous playwright.

Beginning at 8 p.m. in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium, Greenblatt will address the public as part of the annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium. Following the free event, Greenblatt will be available to answer questions from the public and sign books. He will also play moderator during a panel discussion from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheatre.

" We're honored and excited to host a scholar of Stephen Greenblatt's caliber," said Dr. Jennifer Long, associate professor of economics and chair of interdisciplinary studies. " It's especially fitting that our Liberal Arts Symposium centers on Shakespeare—who plays such a central role in the Western humanities canon—as the humanities play such a central role in USAO's core curriculum."

Greenblatt's book, " Will in the World," became a 2004 New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

In his lecture at USAO, entitled, " Shakespearean Beauty Marks," Greenblatt argues that the cultural ideal of beauty in the Renaissance was essentially featureless. That is, the celebration of beauty, rooted in a cult of harmony, was sharply distinct from the art of identification.

Greenblatt surmises that, " Shakespeare endorsed the ideal repeatedly in his work, but his deep attraction, aesthetic and erotic, was for odd, highly individuated forms of beauty that sharply departed from this featureless ideal."

Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Founder of the " new historicism," Greenblatt is a specialist in Shakespeare, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature, the literature of travel and exploration, and literary theory. Former president of the Modern Language Association, he also is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and a permanent fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.

He is the author and editor of numerous books, including " Hamlet in Purgatory," " The Norton Anthology of English Literature," " Practicing New Historicism" (with Catherine Gallagher) and many other titles. He is the co-author of a play and is the founding editor of the journal Representations.

A recipient of the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award, his research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim, a Fulbright fellowship, the American Council of Learned Societies and other funding agencies.

Dr. John Bruce, associate professor of language and literature, said he could not deny Greenblatt's caliber.

" To have a scholar of Stephen Greenblatt's endowments and distinction address an audience on the USAO campus virtually defies believability," he said. " Such sagacity and congeniality only rarely unite as they do in this colossal literary figure, and his visit has the potential to infuse among his auditors something of the intellectual wonderment he espouses and represents."

At 4 p.m., Greenblatt will be joined by a panel of four literature, drama and Shakespeare historians in the Davis Hall Amphitheatre.

Dr. Lars Engle specializes in Shakespeare, early modern British literature and South African literature. He is the associate professor of English at the University of Tulsa and is the author of " Shakespearean Pragmatism: Market of His Time" and recently contributed to " English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology."

Hal Kohlman specializes in acting, directing, contemporary dramatic theory and criticism, Jacobean drama and Shakespeare in performance. A Ph.D. candidate, he is an adjunct instructor at University of Central Oklahoma. Kohlman has extensive experience as actor and director with Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, Oklahoma City Theatre Company and Carpenter Square Theatre.

Dr. Jessica Maerz is the assistant professor of theatre history, literature and theory at Oklahoma State University. She has research interests in early modern theatre history and dramatic literature, film history and theory, adaptation and cultural studies. She is the author of an article on Jean-Luc Godard's film adaptation of " King Lear," which appeared in Literature/Film Quarterly in 2004.

Dr. Jacqueline Vanhoutte specializes in early English drama, including Shakespeare. She has a strong secondary interest in literature associated with the Tudor monarchs, especially Elizabeth I. She is the author of " Strange Communion: Motherland and Masculinity in Tudor Plays, Pamphlets, and Politics," which examines the maternal tropes used by sixteenth-century playwrights, politicians, and polemicists to describe the English nation as well as numerous articles and conference presentations.

Jennifer Long said she looks forward to hearing Greenblatt's perspective of Shakespeare's contributions to a world that still regards him as one of history's best playwrights.

" As Freud pointed out, the works of creative artists such as playwrights are invaluable in understanding our world, as they are 'apt to know a whole host of things between heaven and earth of which our philosophy has not yet let us dream,'" Long said. " I'm eager to hear Greenblatt discuss Shakespeare's contribution to that understanding."

USAO's 2008 Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium is made possible through a generous gift from the Kirkpatrick Foundation of Oklahoma City. It is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumni Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.