Research agenda

I have five years of research time ahead of me. I still cannot believe it, but it is true. The first year is a gift from the Board of my university (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) to help promising young researchers improve their track record in publishing. I am going to use it to finally publish a rigorously rewritten version of my PhD thesis. So expect posts about revenge once more, but also about the Inns of Court, the common law, and the do’s and don’ts of writing a book proposal.

I am now working on an essay on ‘Cognition and Affect’ for the section on Shakespeare criticism in the Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia, edited by Bruce R. Smith and Katherine Rowe (Cambridge University Press). I really enjoy reading and writing for this essay, not only because it might become part of such a wonderful publication which is also an innovative digital resource, but also because the topic is precisely what my new research project (2011-2015) focuses on.

My project “Moving Scenes: Theatre, Passions and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England” has its own blog where I will post abstracts and conference papers. This is how the ‘About’ page describes the project:

‘Moving Scenes’ examines the role of the theatre in thinking about the transmission of emotion in the context of the emerging public sphere in early modern England. Although Jürgen Habermas situated the origins of the public sphere in the eighteenth century, recent research has traced its roots to the sixteenth and seven teenth centuries. The transition from a feudal to a proto-capitalist society in which persuasion and rhetoric became central tools, contributed to the emergence of an early public sphere. The print controversies of the period are also seen as central in this process, as well as the religious debate caused by the English Reformation (see (Halasz 1997; Zaret 2000; and Staines 2004).

These changes in society evoked pervasive questions about the role of the emotions in this emerging public sphere. The relation­ship between sense experience, emotion and reason constitutes a major ‘faultline’ in early modern English culture (Sinfield 1992; see also Smith 2009). Not only was the stage a key focus for debates about the effects of passion in perception and judge ment, it was also one of the important locations in which this debate was carried out. With spec tators from across the social spectrum, the theatre was one of the major cultural laboratories in early modern English culture.

With its specific focus on the role of the theatre in debates about the place of conveyed emotions in the public sphere, Moving Scenes shows that a study of theatrical representations of the effects of passion can do more than shed light on issues of identity and selfhood. The research project provides insight into the politics of passions in early modern English culture.

“Moving Scenes” is funded by a ‘Veni’-grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Works cited

  • Halasz, Alexandra. The Marketplace of Print: Pamphlets and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Smith, Bruce. The Key of Green: Passion and Perception in Renaissance Culture. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • Staines, John. “Compassion in the Public Sphere of Milton and King Charles” in: Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion. Eds. Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe and Mary Floyd-Wilson. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. 89-110.
  • Zaret, David. Origins of Democratic Culture: Printing, Petitions, and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Gender, history & blogging

Historiann this week features two great guest posts by Ruth Mazo Karras, one of the editors of Gender and History, in which she gives an inside view of academic publishing in journals. The first post walks the reader through the process of publishing an article (including a very useful practical timeline of the whole process), the second post answers questions from readers of the first post – also on the question whether you should publish an article on gender history in Gender and History or in a  journal that specializes in in your historical period.

I also found this Call for Papers in my mailbox, via kenau and the History of Feminism Network:

Call for Papers: Feminism, Blogging, and the Historical Profession
Journal of Women’s History

The Journal of Women’s History invites submissions for a roundtable on the emergence of blogging as a location for critical thought among women in the historical profession; historians of women, gender, and sexuality; and feminist scholars who may, or may not be, historians. Participants may wish to address one or more of the following questions in an abstract of no more than 250 words:

  • What role does self-publishing on the internet play in a profession where merit is defined by scholarly review and a rigorouseditorial process?
  • What are the intellectual benefits, and/or costs, of blogging?
  • What are the ethics and consequences of blogging under a pseudonym?
  • What kinds of electronic acknowledgement already correlate with established scholarly practices; which can be discarded; and which need to be attended to, perhaps more rigorously than in printed publications?
  • If many scholarly publications and organizations have alreadyadopted blogs as a way of spreading news and inviting conversation, is blogging itself developing rules and practices that will inevitably produce intellectual and scholarly hierarchies similar to those that blogging seeks to dismantle?
  • Does feminist blogging offer particular opportunities for enhanced conversation about race, sexuality, class, and national paradigms, or does it tend to reproduce existing scholarly paradigms and silences within feminist scholarship?
  • Finally, are new forms of colleagueship and scholarship emerging in the blogosphere?

The roundtable will consist of a short introduction, several essays of 2,000 to 3,000 words, and a concluding comment/response. Abstracts should arrive no later than July 15, 2009, and can be submitted electronically to Claire Potter at tenured[dot]radical[at]gmail[dot]com.

Final submissions are due October 1, 2009. Pseudonymous bloggers may publish under their pseudonyms, but must be willing to reveal their identities to the editor of the roundtable and the commenter. Bloggers based outside the United States are particularly encouraged to contribute.

Radio (2)

I did my very first radio interview last night, and enjoyed it. The show was aired live from the studios of the NOS in the Media Park in Hilversum, where the Dutch news is also made. The small radio studio that I was in is the one that also produces the Radio 1 Journaal, the news programme that I listen to religiously every morning (the images below are from their website). I felt a bit like a tourist, wandering around in a world that seems so familiar but is not.

BNN is a broadcasting organization that targets young people, so the first thing the presenter did was snort at our Shakespeare Society of the Low Countries and our supposedly boring activities – conferences, pfffft! — but I think I managed to trigger some enthusiasm for Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet in him, and perhaps in some of the listeners. I had a good time, even if it was only six minutes that felt like six seconds. The excerpt from their podcast is below – it’s in Dutch.

BNN Today – Quicktime Streaming

By the way, I am glad that this did not happen to me – a Dutch news presenter this week was accidentally on air while she was preparing herself for the coming broadcast, and wondered aloud whether she should ‘flaunt what she has’. It’s funny to see (though not for poor Eva Jinek) that presenters are just as nervous as amateurs before going on air.

Radio

renj_ntBNN Today, a programme on the news channel on Dutch radio, has asked me to appear in their show tomorrow evening to talk about Shakespeare. This theatre season offers no less than 5 productions of Romeo and Juliet, which is unusual. One of them, by Het Nationale Toneel, opens tomorrow in The Hague. BNN wants to know all about the play and why it is still so popular.

I think I will first talk about the play itself, about the conflict between love and the pressures of family and society, and about the wonderful ways in which Shakespeare’s language expresses that conflict. Then I think I cannot resist to  point out that although the play is often called timeless, Shakespeare’s version of the story is very much a product of sixteenth-century English culture, its gender norms, its ideas about marriage and revenge. Even if the love story seems universal, each production does situate the play in a different cultural context, whether it is 1950s New York, twentieth-century Verona Beach or a post 9/11 Amsterdam where a Turkish pizza-delivery boy falls in love with a Dutch hockey girl, as in Theo van Gogh’s television series Najib en Julia. If I have not been cut off by then, I could also point out that the notion of romantic love is also a product of early modern culture, as Catherine Belsey emphasizes in Shakespeare & the Loss of Eden.

The interesting thing about Dutch productions in the current season is that some of them explicitly set the play in a modern context: ZEP theatre with Rome en Juli’s Posse situated it amongst street slang and hip hop, turning Romeo into a player (review on 8Weekly); RO Theater presented an urban version that sought to unite the love story with the raw side of Rotterdam as a city. Other productions, such as that by REP Theater based on Joe Calarco’s adaptation and played by five men, shied away from street language and requested a translation that was “real Shakespeare.” Frank Albers’ translation for Nationaal Toneel also does not “go ethnic” as he puts it, but aims to be more poetic and literary than other contemporary Dutch translations (translators interviewed by Karin Veraart in the Volkskrant). Het Nationale Toneel’s website also does not provide any hints of a contemporary context — its text focuses on the mystery of unconditional love. Their poster mainly triggered my interest in the mystery of the black shoe – is this a family member barging in, the way the nurse interrupts Romeo and Juliet’s first romantic sonnets-in-dialogue in Shakespeare’s text?

This is my very first time on the radio, so apart from focusing on the play I also surfed the web today to find some helpful sites on doing radio interviews. Here’s are some of the things I found:

More tips are welcome!

Arden Shakespeare

I read on The Freudian Petticoat this morning that the Arden Shakespeare has one-sidedly decided to end their contract with Patricia Parker for her edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Arden 3 series. The Chronicle ran an article on the matter. There is also a website in support of Patricia Parker on which she tells her side of the disquieting story. The site also links to a petition started by Richard Halpern to ask the publishing firm that now owns the Arden Shakespeare to reinstate Parker as the editor.

Getting it published

This is what’s waiting for me on my desk:

gettingitpublished.png

You guessed it — it’s time to revise my dissertation for publication. People at the ESSHC conference in Lissabon kept asking me where my thesis was published. Their interest really motivated me to take some action in that department.

I read Germano’s From Dissertation to Book while I was waiting for my delayed plane on the Lisbon airport, and I decided that I need to do what he calls a “deep revision” to turn my dissertation into a publishable book. I need to make my chapters more lucid, strengthen my line of argument, speak more in my own voice instead of that of other critics, and get rid of excess block quotes.

Germano’s book suggests that I don’t contact a publishing house quite yet. He recommends revising the book first, so that I am ready to send it out if a publisher reacts positively to my book proposal. So that is my plan of action now: revise first, then write a brilliant book proposal to sell my Wild Justice: The Dynamics of Gender and Revenge in Early Modern English Drama to a publisher in England or the United States. Ah yes, I probably need a snappier subtitle too.

All practical advice on how to go about turning a dissertation into a published book is greatly welcome!