‘Shakespeare the barbarian’

Wednesday 3 December 2003

An academic from the University of St Andrews will explore today why the English language of the mid 16th century was considered to be inadequate and barbaric, even by the English themselves.

This might seem surprising during a period in which arguably one of the greatest writers of all time, William Shakespeare, was born, but Professor Neil Rhodes will explain in a public lecture that England was nothing more than a ‘cultural backwater’ with a low self-image at the time.

He will explore how Shakespeare tapped into the consciousness of the nation and developed his writings to mirror the growing confidence of the nation in the latter part of the 1500’s.

Professor Rhodes of the University’s School of English, will make the claims during his lecture ‘Shakespeare the Barbarian’ today (Wednesday 3rd December, 2003). Professor Rhodes, an expert in Shakespeare and the origins of English, will deliver the public lecture in St Andrews to commemorate his inauguration as a Professor.

He explained: “Because Shakespeare has such an unparalleled reputation as writer of genius, we tend to forget that when he was born, England was a cultural backwater on the edge of Europe with no colonial possessions. Even the language was regarded by the English themselves as barbarous and inadequate for the writing of great literature.”

“During Shakespeare’s lifetime this low self-image is replaced by increasing cultural self- confidence, which he instinctively taps into. This lecture argues that Shakespeare’s career trajectory, from the early ‘Titus Andronicus’ to the late ‘Tempest’ mirrors the English nation’s development from barbarism to nascent imperial power,” he continued.

The lecture derives from a chapter of Professor Rhodes’ forthcoming book ‘Shakespeare and the Origins of English’, due to be published next year by Oxford University Press.

‘Shakespeare the Barbarian’, the inaugural lecture by Professor Neil Rhodes, will be given on Wednesday 3rd December, 2003 at School III, St Salvator’s Quad, St Andrews at 5.15pm. Members of the public are welcome.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected] Ref: Shakespeare the Barbarian pr 021203 View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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