||Visiting lecturer: To understand politics, turn to Shakespeare
RELEASED: October 16, 2008
Using Shakespeare's characters as analogues for political figures has long been a popular hobby for pundits and columnists. What's at stake in declaring that a presidential candidate is "like" one of Shakespeare's heroes or villains, and to what extent do Shakespeare's own plays complicate this desire for character-based comparison?
Newstok will discusses these questions and their answers during his lecture, "Shakespeare and Presidential Politics," on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. in Young 101 on campus. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Centre College English program.
For instance, Newstok says, current President George W. Bush has incessantly been compared to reformed prodigal Prince Hal, hero of Shakespeare's Henry IV and V plays.
"This is using a cultural authority (Shakespeare) to bolster a political authority (the Bush regime)," says Newstok in his 2003 online essay titled George W as Henry V? "When exactly did we become resigned to leaving the interpretation of Shakespeare's political significance to reactionary pundits and consultants?"
Newstok is a Shakespeare scholar with a special interest in this topic and is the editor of the Shakespeare criticism of the American intellectual Kenneth Burke; co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on Macbeth and African-American culture; and author of a study of English Renaissance epitaphs.
Centre associate professor of English Mark Rasmussen invited Newstok to campus. "It's a special treat to have Scott Newstok, a brilliant young Shakespeare scholar, come to Centre in this election year to tell us how the Bard might help us understand the craziness of politics today. Anyone from Centre or from the community who's interested in politics, or Shakespeare, or Shakespeare and politics, is sure to enjoy hearing what Professor Newstock has to say."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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