As part of the British Academy's 2011 Literature Week
Drama, in Martin Meisel’s neat definition, is the ‘management of audience expectation’. This lecture will explore some of the ways in which Shakespeare’s plays cue and manage audience expectation, response, and understanding. Laurie Maguire will look at how audiences process plot and emotions, how they interpret character and language, and how Shakespeare and his contemporaries train audiences to ‘read’ plays. A key component of the lecture will be the changing status of character criticism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Considering Shakespeare’s characters as if they are real people with motivations has long been outlawed in academic circles; yet character remains a consistent point of entry for audiences. One aim of the lecture will be to effect a rapprochement between these two constituencies.
About the speaker
Laurie Maguire is Professor of English Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford. She specialises in Shakespeare but her dramatic interests are wide: from ancient Greece to contemporary theatre. In the Renaissance her particular passions are Christopher Marlowe and the period's most prolific playwright, 'Anon'. She has been a judge on the Laurence Olivier Theatre panel, and reviews theatre for the TLS. She is the author or editor of seven books, the most recent of which is Helen of Troy: From Homer to Hollywood (2009).
Professor Laurie Maguire, University of Oxford