Conference: Hamlet - Reception in European Cultures
Date: 14-16 May 2009
Location: Cardiff University
Organised by: Professor Gerrit-Jan Berendse and Dr Ruth Owen
Shakespeare’s Hamlet exemplifies a source text prolifically appropriated by countless national cultures throughout Europe. The Cardiff conference will examine adaptations and transformations of storylines, characters, motifs, and text from the play. Papers are invited that examine the reception of Hamlet in one or more instances of literary or visual culture. Plays, poetry, novels, films, and graphic art have all engaged with Hamlet. Adaptation makes the Hamlet material fit for new cultural contexts and different political ideologies to those of Shakespeare’s time and place. Many of these works are iconoclastic, ‘talking back’ to Shakespeare. The relationship to the original remains present and relevant, but a grafting takes place, to produce an entirely new artefact.
The reception of Hamlet is a form of collaboration across time and across languages. It can involve the revaluation of a character, provide a back-story, or offer a voice to figures originally marginalized. The movement into a different genre can present a re-reading of Hamlet from a revised viewpoint. We are thinking of prolonged engagement, rather than passing allusion. A political or ethical commitment often shapes a writer’s or artist’s decision to re-interpret Hamlet. Theoretical concerns from post-colonialism, feminism and queer studies figure in many of the adaptations. With this in mind, the aim of the conference is to consider the processes by which aspects of Shakespeare’s play have been transmitted and received within European cultures.