Shakespeare & Music

Professor Julie Sanders

Friday, 19 February at 17:00
Venue: Maamari Hall - American University of Beirut

Professor Julie Sanders is an English Literature and Drama specialist with an international reputation in early modern literature and in adaptation studies. She obtained her first degree in English at Cambridge University and then went on to study for a Masters and a PhD at the University of Warwick, during which time she studied on exchange at Ca’Foscari in Venice and at UC Berkeley. Her first lectureship was at Keele University in 1995 and she then joined the University of Nottingham as Chair of English Literature and Drama in 2004. At Nottingham she was Head of the School of English from 2010-13 and then seconded for two years to their Ningbo China joint venture campus as Vice Provost (Teaching and Learning) where she helped launch the AHRC’s first centre in China focussing on Digital Copyright and IT research. In 2012, Julie was awarded the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for international women’s scholarship and she has a strong track record in cross-disciplinary research and international collaboration.

‘Play On’: William Shakespeare’s Afterlife in Music
2016 marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death and a year of global celebrations of his life and works will reflect on his remarkable legacy. This lecture will focus on the particularly rich afterlives of Shakespeare in music, in forms and genres as diverse as jazz, opera, film score, classical symphony, ballet, musical, and popular song. Thinking about Shakespeare’s reception and interpretation in music, over time, in different cultures, and for different venues, spaces, and audiences, can tell us much about the plays and the different ways in which they have made meaning in the world over the centuries. But this 400-year journey through Shakespeare’s musical legacy is also a celebration of artistic creativity. In the course of this talk, we will see (and hear) plays such as Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Winter’s Tale remade and made to mean afresh in new cultural, linguistic, performative, and geographical contexts. Theories of adaptation and appropriation will be used to shed light on the canon of Shakespearean adaptation in music and song.

We will begin with the significance of music and song in Shakespeare’s own plays and then turn to a few specific examples, chosen deliberately from different historical, cultural and international contexts, to tell the amazing story of Shakespeare and music. On the way, we will encounter Henry Purcell’s early experiments with opera in the seventeenth century, the importance of Shakespeare to European classical and operatic traditions, the ways in which Chinese opera has engaged with the plays, how Shakespeare is quoted and riffed on in jazz and popular music, and how film directors such as Baz Luhrmann have made a unique art form out of their responses to Shakespeare on screen using music to connect with their audiences and to remake Shakespeare for their own space, place, and time.

Julie Sanders is Professor of English Literature and Culture at Newcastle University in the UK and also currently their Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Humanities and Social Sciences. She has published extensively on Shakespeare and early modern drama as well as on theories of adaptation, including Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowing (Cambridge: Polity, 2007) and The Cambridge Introduction to Early Modern Drama, 1576-1642 (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She has worked with theatre and opera companies in the UK and the US, and given talks on Shakespeare and adaptation in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States. The updated edition of her book Adaptation and Appropriation was published by Routledge in 2015.