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Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Shakespeare Jahrbuch 159 (2023)

“Shakespeare’s Odysseys” 

The 2023 volume of Shakespeare Jahrbuch will be a special issue on Shakespeare’s Odysseys”. The editorial board invites contributions on related themes, concepts and debates, from a variety of perspectives, including studies of Shakespeare’s plays and/or poetry; productions, adaptations, and spin-offs of these texts; as well as references to Shakespeare in writings about or rewritings of the Odyssey. Contributions with a contemporary or historical perspective are equally welcome.

While Shakespeare never read Homer’s works directly, many of his plays and poems evoke a Homeric world. Brought to Renaissance England through the rewritings by of Vergil, Horace, Ovid and others, figures from Greek epos as well as drama and mythology circulated in translations, handbooks, poems, plays and plentiful allusions. Troilus and Cressida, whose figures likely came to Shakespeare through Chaucer’s medieval adaptation, portrays the heroism of the Iliad from the sceptical perspective of the traumatized survivors in the Odyssey. Hamlet’s direct allusions to the Trojan Queen Hecuba deepen the play’s theme of grief and mourning, while the father-son relationship modelled on Odysseus and Telemachus and, in a darker vein, on Orestes’ revenge of Agamemnon’s murder, underpins Prince Hamlet’s coming-of-age as it does that of Prince Hal in the two parts of Henry IV. Gertrude’s Penelope is joined by many other female figures of complaint and seduction, but also of revenge and resilience, in Shakespeare’s histories, tragedies, and poems. Plays like The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Pericles, or The Tempest feature narratives of wandering and shipwreck, of loss and reunion, of exile, hospitality and homecoming that are interspersed with scenes of witchcraft and wonder. Identities made uncertain by disguise, magic or ignorance become revealed in scenes of dramatic (self-)recognition. Odyssean moments of arrival on new shores (or, more disturbingly, at home) are liminal experiences of uncertainty and disorientation – “What country, friends, is this?” (TN, 1.2.1) – which may be alleviated by hospitality that, however, often exists uneasily with the strangers’ threat of violent colonial appropriation, as Caliban discovers to his detriment. –– If Shakespeare’s plays draw on Homeric figures, plots and themes, their own reception history from the early modern period to the present moment resemble an Odyssean wandering through different genres and media, transpositions and translations, of departures and homecomings.

Possible topics include:

Migration, hospitality and homecoming

  • narratives of shipwreck, exile and wandering
  • hospitality and its abuses
  • visions of home (domesticity, marriage, family relations) and the dangers of homecoming

 Protean shape-shifting, misrecognition and identity

  • the disguise of identity and disguise as identity (trickster-figures)
  • moments of disidentification and recognition
  • moments of cognitive and affective disorientation

war, heroism and its discontents

  • war-heroes and the rhetoric of heroism
  • depictions and parodies of honour
  • anti-heroes and critiques of martial manliness

 quests, conquest and colonialism

  • translatio imperii (Troy – Rome – London): the Trojan origins of the Roman Empire and of Britain; the story of Troy in the making of early modern national identity
  • the destruction and (re)building of a civilization in plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • colonialism and its critique in postcolonial writings intertwining Homeric and Shakespearean legacies

subaltern perspectives on epic: women and slaves

  • Penelope-figures: abandoned women and the complaint genre in early modern England; figures of female resilience and loyalty
  • Medea-figures: female revenge, betrayal and violence; the dangers of home-coming
  • Circe/Calypso-figures: enchantment and seduction, resulting in male transformation and self-forgetting
  • Scylla/Charybdis-figures: female insatiability and lust figured as monstrous threat
  • servants, slave figures and subaltern knowledge

Gods, supernatural forces and human nature

  • explorations of the nature of free will and its delimitation by the divine (fate, fortune, providence)
  • supernatural forces (gods, magic, spirits, ghosts or monsters) as antagonists and mirrors to human nature
  • the role of classical myth in articulating knowledge about the natural world and the relations between the human and the non-human (metamorphosis, transformation)

formal intersections of epic and drama in early modernity

  • the language and narrative structures of epic in in Shakespeare’s plays and poems: epic similes, proems, flashbacks, inset narratives, invocation of muses, epic narrating and listening, etc.
  • Homeric figures in dramatic performances
  • relationship between epic and romance, epic and history play, epic and tragedy or comedy

 reception of Greek antiquity in early modern culture

  • early modern translations of Homer and their links to drama
  • figures and legends from Greek mythology in early modern literature
  • Greek plays featuring Homeric figures on the early modern stage
  • the role of medieval literature in the early modern reception of classical antiquity

 epic afterlives: rewritings, adaptations, scholarship

  • history of scholarship on the links between Shakespeare and Homer
  • the role of Homer and Shakespeare particularly in modernist literature
  • post-colonial and feminist rewritings that intertwine Shakespeare and Homer
  • works of visual art, including film and TV-series, that depict Shakespearean figures, scenes or plays in the epic mode

Please send an electronic version (as a Word/docx-file) of your article to the general editor of Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Prof. Dr. Isabel Karremann (email: karremann@es.uzh.ch). The deadline for submissions (in English or German and of not more than 6,000 words) is 30 April 2022. Please observe the style sheet, which can be downloaded from the website of the German Shakespeare Society (https://shakespeare-gesellschaft.de/shakespeare-jahrbuch/note-on-submission/?lang=en).

Articles are selected for publication on the basis of a double-blind peer-review system.