James Shapiro, Equivocation in 1606 | Newberry

James Shapiro, Equivocation in 1606

James Shapiro

James Shapiro

Cosponsored by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Thursday, September 29, 2016

6 pm

Ruggles Hall

James Shapiro, Columbia University
See the link to a recording of the program from this page
Open to the Public
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs

Listen to the audio recording of the event.

When Shakespeare first used the word “equivocation” in Hamlet it was in the neutral sense of “ambiguous.” Seven years later he would make much of this word in Macbeth (whose protagonist complains of the ‘equivocation of the fiend /That lies like truth”). By then the word “equivocation” was understood to mean something duplicitous, a device by which Catholics in particular could justify lying under oath. This talk traces the strange history of this resonant word, examining how this sea-change in meaning came about in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot and discovery of a “Treatise of Equivocation.” The talk focuses in particular on Shakespeare’s complex handling of “equivocation,” and how his use of the word in Macbeth spoke powerfully to this fraught cultural moment.

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. His books include Shakespeare and the Jews (1996), 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), Contested Will (2010), the anthology Shakespeare in America (2014), and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 (2015) . He has also co-authored and presented two BBC documentaries: Shakespeare: The King’s Man and The Mysterious Mr. Webster. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Board of Governors of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and is Shakespeare Scholar in Residence at New York’s Public Theater.

Several of Shapiro’s publications are available for purchase in the Newberry Bookstore.

This lecture is part of programming related to the Newberry exhibition Creating Shakespeare, which will run from September 23 to December 31, 2016, and is cosponsored with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

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Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.