CHESTERTOWN, MD—Dr. Miriam Gilbert, a distinguished Shakespeare scholar and professor of English at the University of Iowa, will deliver the first Washington College Lecture on Jewish Thought on Wednesday, October 19. Her talk, “Shakespeare and the ‘likeness of a Jew,’ ” will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, in the Toll Science Center, with a reception to follow in the McLain Atrium.
Gilbert will discuss Jewish actors and directors who have performed in or directed productions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and how their own backgrounds and experiences may have informed their work on the play and the portrayal of the character Shylock.
“When Shakespeare created one of the most famous fictional Jewish characters in literature, Shylock, there were probably very few Jews in England, and certainly not openly or legally,” says Gilbert. “So what images and stereotypes and beliefs lie behind this character? How has his representation on stage changed in the course of 400-plus years of performance? And what do those changes indicate about our understanding of Shakespeare’s play, and the tensions it presents? I’ll be exploring these questions, paying special attention to performances of the past forty years, in England,” she adds about her upcoming talk at Washington College.
Gilbert, who has taught at the University of Iowa since 1969, has written performance histories (Shakespeare in Performance: Love’s Labour’s Lost, 1993, Shakespeare at Stratford: The Merchant of Venice, 2001), as well as articles on teaching Shakespeare through performance. She has led eight seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and now teaches a course titled “Shakespeare: Page and Stage” for the Bread Loaf School of English at Lincoln College, Oxford. She has a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where she lectures for The Shakespeare Centre.
The Oct. 19 event is free and open to the public. Sponsors include The Sophie Kerr Committee, Washington College Hillel, the Rose O'Neill Literary House, Phi Beta Kappa, and The Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture.
For more information, visit http://www.washcoll.edu.x