Ballading the Winter's Tale: From Sicilian Court Tragedy to Bohemian Pastoral Comedy

  • 5. října 2021
    14:00 – 15:30
  • posluchárna D31, Arna Nováka 1, Brno / online (ZOOM)

From Sicilian Court Tragedy to Bohemian Pastoral Comedy: The Regenerative Roguery of Autolycus and his Media-Savvy, Profitable Disguise as Balladeer at the Sheep-Shearing Feast

Why do Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists obsessively cite snippets of broadside ballads (memorable words, phases, or parts of tune titles and refrains) in virtually every play they wrote in Renaissance England? Do they and their audience perceive the broadside ballad as companion or as competitor to staged drama? And why does Shakespeare’s career-long investigation and experimentation of the possibilities and limits of his art, dramatic genres, acting, and role playing culminate in his focusing in one of last plays, The Winter’s Tale, on foregrounding a shape-shifting opportunist trickster, Autolycus, who dominates the literal centre of the play—the Bohemian sheep-shearing Feast—in the guise of a Prospero-like enchanting balladeer? These are some of the key questions Professor Fumerton addresses in her own experimental investigation into what James Kearney has called Shakespeare’s ultimate turn in The Winter’s Tale to a celebration of “radical contingency” (“Shipwrecked Ethics”). Is there room in such a celebration, in both country and court, for the participatory and inviting performance of broadside ballads?

Patricia Fumerton is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and both Founder and Director of the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), 2003-present. Of her three monographs and nine editions, her latest publication is a monumental multimedia reading, with accompanying website of 48 audio files of sung ballads as well as the inclusion of 40 printed music notations and more than 80 illustrations. The book—the culmination of two decades of work—is titled The Broadside Ballad in Early Modern England: Moving Media, Tactical Publics (U of Pennsylvania Press, December 2020).

Web English Broadside Ballad Archive

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