Once again we have the pleasure of inviting you to join us for our “Problematics of Culture and Theory” seminar series.
The seminars will begin on Monday, 21 November 2016, with a talk by Dr. Erica Sheen (Senior Lecturer in the Dept. of English and Related Literature at the University of York, UK) entitled:
“An Englishman, a Spaniard and a German: Salvador de Madariaga and Carl Schmitt read Hamlet.”
The talk will take place in Room 308 (upstairs) at 19:15.
In the national cultures of nineteenth century Europe, Hamlet inspired almost universal adoption as a national son. In 1844, German poet Ferdinand Feilingrath famously asserted that ‘Deutschland ist Hamlet’; in Poland, Hamlet was known as ‘the Polish Prince’; in Russia, in 1864, speaking at a Shakespeare Anniversary celebration, novelist Ivan Turgenev proclaimed that Shakespeare ‘has passed into our very flesh and blood. Surely the character of Hamlet is better understood by us, than, say, by a Frenchman or even an Englishman’. In 1919, the year of the Treaty of Versailles, French poet Paul Valery imagined a European Hamlet who was witness to the devastation that had resulted from European nationalism, and to the dilemma of its continuing intellectual tradition.
In the aftermath of World War 2, Hamlet emerged once again as the focus of intense engagement with the question of what it was, or could be, to be European. In this paper, I am concerned with two strongly contrasting intellectuals whose explicitly political approaches to Shakespeare were centrally directed towards the idea of European supranationalism: Spanish diplomat and anti-fascist Salvador de Madariaga; and conservative German jurist and unrepentant Nazi Carl Schmitt. They come together in the first decade of the Cold War, both with consecutive studies on Hamlet and Europe: Madariaga’s On Hamlet (1948), and Portrait of Europe (1952); Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (1950) and Hamlet oder Hekuba: Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel (Hamlet or Hecuba: The Intrusion of the Time into the Play, 1956). In Hamlet or Hecuba, Schmitt cites Madariaga, briefly and dismissively, before going on to develop his now extraordinarily influential account of the ‘taboo’ that encrypts the scandal of the Stuart succession within Shakespeare’s play. In this paper, I will argue that Schmitt’s taboo is Salvador de Madariaga rather than James I, and try to unravel the complex mesh of thinking about nationalism and national character that binds their work.
Erica Sheen is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Film in the Dept. of English and Related Literature at the University of York, UK. She teaches and researches in the cultural politics of post- and Cold War literature, film and critical theory, and in the Cold War reception of Shakespeare. Her publications include Shakespeare and the Institution of Theatre: The Best in this Kind (Palgrave Macmillan 2009), Shakespeare in Cold War Europe: Conflict, Commemoration, Celebration, co-edited with Isabel Karremann (Palgrave Pivot 2016), a forthcoming Shakespearean special edition of the journal Comparative Drama, as well as edited collections, chapters and articles on European art cinema, Renaissance law and literature, literary adaptation and contemporary American film. Her forthcoming book, Cold War Shakespeare has been supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Visiting Fellowships at the Centre for Advanced Studies, LMU Munich and Harry Ransom Center, Austin, and by research residences at the Tamiment Library NYU, the Truman Presidential Library and the Getty Research Institute. She is co-organiser of the Cultures of the Cold War international network, and of the NWO-funded international network Shakespeare in the Making of Europe.