The Anthropology of Shakespeare

Class finishes

Ben Jonson famously wrote Shakespeare ‘was not of an age, but for all time.’  Though many have focused on the continued relevance of his works in subsequent periods, few have followed the thread back to human origins.  This talk will investigate how RAG’s ‘sex-strike’ theory may inform Shakespeare’s apparent timelessness by illuminating the underlying logic common to both.  Material from African hunter-gatherer cosmologies and gender rituals will be included to amplify themes of lunar periodicity, blood symbolism, gender-inversions, reverse-dominance and the fundamental ambiguity characteristic of Shakespeare’s plays. While Harold Bloom credits Shakespeare with ’the invention of the human,’ our discussion will focus on how ‘the human revolution’ may have, in fact, created Shakespeare.

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Talk location

Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square

51.525144001996, -0.13145656201327

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Speaker(s): Chris Knight