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Celebrating Recent Work by Lauren Robertson

New Books in the Arts and Sciences

dateMarch 27, 2023 timeMonday, 6:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Cover of Entertaining Uncertainty in the Early Modern Theater: Stage Spectacle and Audience Response by Lauren Robertson

Entertaining Uncertainty in the Early Modern Theater: Stage Spectacle and Audience Response
by Lauren Robertson

Lauren Robertson's original study shows that the theater of Shakespeare and his contemporaries responded to the crises of knowledge that roiled through early modern England by rendering them spectacular. Revealing the radical, exciting instability of the early modern theater's representational practices, Robertson uncovers the uncertainty that went to the heart of the playgoing experience in this period. Doubt was not merely the purview of Hamlet and other onstage characters but was, in fact, constitutive of spectators' imaginative participation in performance. Within a culture in the midst of extreme epistemological upheaval, the commercial theater licensed spectators' suspension among opposed possibilities, transforming dubiety itself into exuberantly enjoyable, spectacular show. Robertson shows that the playhouse was a site for the entertainment of uncertainty in a double sense: its pleasures made the very trial of unknowing possible.

This event will be in person at the Heyman Center and live-streamed online. Please register for both in-person and virtual attendance via the link.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

About the Author

Lauren Robertson is an Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She specializes in early modern drama, with an emphasis on the stagecraft and conventions of the London commercial theater. Her essays appear or are forthcoming in Shakespeare Studies, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Quarterly, Publicity and the Early Modern Stage (Palgrave, 2021), and English Literary Renaissance.

About the Speakers

Julie Crawford is the Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities at Columbia University and works on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature and culture. She has written on Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Margaret Cavendish, the Sidneys, Anne Clifford, Margaret Hoby, and Mary Wroth, as well as on post-Reformation religious culture, the history of reading, and the history of sexuality. Her book, Marvelous Protestantism: Monstrous Births in Post-Reformation England, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2005, and her new book, Mediatrix: Women, Politics, and Literary Production in Early Modern England, was published by Oxford UP in 2014.

Jeremy Lopez is a Professor in the Department of English at Montclair State University, having recently moved from the University of Toronto, where he taught for 17 years. He received his PhD from Cornell University, and from 2002 to 2005, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the College of William & Mary. Professor Lopez is the author of numerous books and essays on the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and the general editor of the Routledge Anthology of Early Modern Drama (2020). Since 2018, he has served as the Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, the flagship journal in the field of Shakespeare studies.

Alan Stewart works on early modern British literature, history, and culture. He is the Associate Chair and a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He joined Columbia in 2003, after teaching for ten years at Queen Mary, and Birkbeck, both University of London. His book publications include Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (1997); Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon 1561-1626 (with Lisa Jardine, 1998); Philip Sidney: A Double Life (2000); The Cradle King: A Life of James VI and I (2003); Letterwriting in Renaissance England (with Heather Wolfe, 2004); Shakespeare's Letters (2008); and The Oxford History of Life-Writing, volume 2, Early Modern (2018).

W. B. Worthen is the Alice Brady Pels Professor in the Arts and Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at Barnard College, Columbia University; he also serves as Co-Chair of the PhD Program in Theatre at Columbia and is a Professor in the Theatre Division of the School of the Arts and in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. He is the author of several books, including The Idea of the Actor (Princeton University Press 1984), Modern Drama and the Rhetoric of Theater (University of California Press 1993), Shakespeare and the Force of Modern Performance (Cambridge University Press 2002), Print and the Poetics of Modern Drama (Cambridge University Press 2006), Drama: Between Poetry and Performance (Wiley-Blackwell 2010), and Shakespeare Performance Studies (Cambridge University Press 2014).