Monthly Archives: June 2014


Chip Kidd at the 2014 LA Times Book Fest | The Los Angeles Review of Books.


Faking Galileo | The Los Angeles Review of Books. Great piece by Massimo Mazzotti on art, science, forgery, and fantasy.

Shakespeare and the Religious Turn, Ten Years Later



In 2004, Ken Jackson and Arthur Marotti published their review essay, “The Turn to Religion in Early Modern English Studies” (Criticism). Although religion has always played a role in Renaissance studies, the twenty-first century wave was powered on the one side by the New Historicist interest in varieties of identity and dynamics of power, and on the other side with an interest in revitalizing theory in the face of historicism. After all, Derrida underwent his own religious turn, while thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Erich Auerbach, Ernst Kantorowicz, Jacob Taubes, and Hannah Arendt along with that great greekjew Saul of Tarsus harbored complex relationships to Christianity and Judaism. Ten years after the publication of Jackson and Marotti’s essay, religion continues to drive innovative work in the field, with major books by David Kastan, Brian Cummings, Sarah Beckwith, and Hannibal Hamlin deepening our appreciation of Shakespeare’s wrestling with religious questions and his immersion in Biblical culture. Running through much of this most recent work on Shakespeare and religion is an interest in recovering in Shakespeare a religious outlook that finds common ground among or before sectarian positions, whether this orientation is called post-confessional, post-secular, messianic, phenomenological, or Abrahamic. Continue reading

Early Modern Critiques of Judgment

Orvieto: Cathedral, San  Brizio Chapel, 1499-1504

Orvieto: Cathedral, San Brizio Chapel, 1499-1504

Panel submission to RSA Berlin, 2015.


Sanford Budick,  “What Follows is Pure Innocence”: Community of Reciprocity in and beyond The Merchant of Venice
Recent commentary has highlighted MV‘s vicious reciprocities. Materialistic, deadly “mercy” continually trades places with materialistic, deadly “law.” This calamity propels the imagination toward a community sustained by a mutually defining reciprocity of law and mercy. Shakespeare’s grossly antisemitic language can be excused, or condemned, for following the orders of his culture. Yet within the continuum of the same culture, MV also aims beyond itself (Lupton, Shershow). I propose that this flight-beyond is well described by the “purposive” historical metaphysics that Kant saw, overcoming whole epochs of species “decline” (Eldridge). Following Bassanio’s unwitting words to Antonio (I.i.139-151, unknowingly echoing Jonathan’s arrow pact with David [1 Samuel 20:17-42]), MV shoots arrows into an unknown, endangered, yet hopeful future. Beyond itself, the play’s projected pattern is not hypocritical supersession but rather, in Kant’s terms, the “reciprocal succession” of a “community of reciprocity.” One’s very existence can only be known in this “coexistence.”

Julia Reinhard Lupton, “Unforgiving Winter’s Tale: Arendt, Auden, and the Drama of Judgment”
In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt argues that “without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would be confined to one single deed from which we would never recover.” W. H. Auden responded by insisting on the unconditional character of forgiveness as well as the difficulty in staging what is in essence an interior state of mind. Arendt responded by insisting on forgiving as an act of judgment. I use the Auden-Arendt exchange to evaluate Hermione’s failure to speak to Leontes at the end of the play. If Hermione does not actually forgive Leontes in the time of the play, she does bless her daughter Perdita. Turning to Sanford Budick’s Kantian reading of secular benediction in King Lear, I suggest that the act of parental blessing offers a respite for spousal forgiveness, and, through the modality of respect, reasserts the necessity of judgment.

Björn Quiring, Primordial Judgment in King Lear and Paradise Lost
When Lear raves on the heath, his curses describe the storm that pelts him as a permanent apocalypse in which creation and last judgment seem equiprimordial, genesis and destruction indistinguishable. Other scenes of King Lear are haunted by corresponding phantasms, as well as by foundering attempts to defend against them. Similarly, in Paradise Lost the cosmos seems to be structured like a tribunal and pervaded by a vehement, primal passion of judging that affects all characters, God first and foremost. This omnipresence of judgments in search of a target is accompanied by a strange suspension of the question of justice, which is tenable only because God the Father takes the role both of the limitless, omnipotent entity of theology and of a somewhat pagan, leviathanic deity (comparable to Lear’s two uncomfortably sutured sovereign bodies). The paper will analyze the connection between the Shakespearean and the Miltonic treatment of primordial judging.



Sympathetic Environments, Material Worlds


I am thrilled to be invited by Amanda Bailey at the University of Maryland to present my thoughts at a roundtable on “Sympathetic Environments, Material Worlds.” The amazing Jane Bennett will also present.

Date: Monday, December 8, 2014, 3:30-5:30 pm.

Image: Jan van Kessel, Peapods and Insects, c. 1650.

Cute Shakespeare

Still Life, Netherlands, c. 1600

At the next Babel Conference, at UC Santa Barbara, October 2014, I’ve organized a panel with CJ Gordon on Cute Shakespeare. Here’s what we’re planning to serve up.

Cute Shakespeare:
Small, Soft, Sweet, Sticky … and (Post)Secular?

In “Our Aesthetic Categories,” Sianne Ngai cites Hannah Arendt on the “modern enchantment with ‘small things’ … the art of being happy between dog and cat and flowerpot.” This modern “enchantment,” we would like to suggest, is bound up with the imperfect disenchantments brought about by secularization. The bejeweled reliquaries, aromatic censers, bittersweet aqua vitae, and velvet vestments of medieval Christianity, as well as the Virgin Mary’s breast milk, the sweet baby Jesus’s foreskin, and the adorable softness of little lambs manifested a cult of cute only partly translated into the modern commodity fetish and the autonomous work of art. Our papers explore the coy and tacky, sumptuous and frivolous remnants of political theology as they toddle, blush, flirt, and purr towards their commodified and demystified futures. To what extent is Shakespearean drama an incubator and curator for the haptic and hand-held aspects of cuteness in relation to secularization and its remainders? What role do sex, age, and housekeeping play in Shakespeare’s distillations and domestications of cute? How does religion, especially Catholicism, come to appear cute (sticky and stinky, infantile and overwrought) in the rational nostalgia of secularism, and what does that post-production affect both capture and belittle in Shakespeare’s fairy toys and baseless fabrics? These questions are the starting point of our panel.

Cute Shakespeare
Julia Reinhard Lupton, University of California, Irvine

Cute Shylock
Luke Wilson, Ohio State University

Cute Cleopatra
CJ Gordon, University of California, Irvine

Cute Coriolanus
Tommy Anderson, Mississippi State University



▶ Franz Schubert – Who is Silvia ? – The King’s Singers – YouTube. Beautiful rendition of “Who Is Silvia?” from As You Like It. Thank you, Viola Kolarov!

Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy


Forthcoming September 2014: a nice collection of essays on Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy, edited by Jennifer Bates and Richard Wilson, with pieces by Paul Kottman, Christopher Norris, Catherine Belsey, and others. My piece, “Arendt in Italy; Or, The Taming of the Shrew,” first published in Law, Culture, and Humanities, is being reprinted for this volume.

Phenomenality, Poesis, and the Creature: A Research Seminar at UCI

Research Seminar on Phenomenality, Poesis, and the Creature
Jane Newman is organizing a research seminar for the Early Cultures group on “Phenomenality, Poesis and the Creature,” Winter 2015, at UCI. Speakers include Victoria Kahn, Niklaus Largier, and Angela Vanhaelen.

Our graduate conference, April 17-18, 2015, will also be on Phenomenologies of the Creature.

The research seminar is funded by UCHRI.

Summer Class: Shakespeare: Text and Performance

My Summer Session II course at UCI will feature the two plays being performed in New Swan Shakespeare Festival, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, plus Cymbeline, Shakespeare’s late return to the world of RJ. The course will feature an acting workshop with Dr. Daniel Keegan and a sonnet session with translator and master teacher Vivian Folkenflik. We will also explore the plays on video.Glass elevator, from Romeo + Juliet.