Shakespeare a Muse for Europe?: Renaissance / Reformation, Revolution / Romanticism and War

Starting date
January 1, 2013
Duration (months)
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Managers or local contacts
Bigliazzi Silvia

This international project, launched by the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (Stratford-upon-Avon), involves three more groups of researchers, from Verona University, Venice University and Munich and Weimer Universities, respectively. It takes as its context the coincidence of two major Shakespearian anniversaries (2014 and 2016) and the centenary of the First World War (2014-2018). Almost a hundred years ago, Europe was in turmoil. The 1914-1918 war was a culmination of old resentments, and the start of new ones. Today, our European Union faces different but related kinds of crises. Europe has always been shaped by upheavals, and the central, transcultural figure of William Shakespeare has played a part in many of them. In a rapidly changing world where the Eurozone is in trouble, the project proposes a fresh, international exploration of Shakespeare’s contribution to European culture. The researchers will focus on the most critical junctures of modern European history, in order to test the possibilities for rethinking, reforging and reinvigorating Shakespeare as a progressive muse for twenty-first century Europe. The aim is to identify and recover the intellectual, cultural, political, and creative impulses which were felt during these times of crisis, in part better to understand the present crisis, in part to challenge a reductive, exclusively fiscal understanding of European union and inheritance. Within this context, attention will be paid to Civic Shakespeare by investigating Shakespeare’s potential for critical and creative engagements with public issues in times of crisis. Since Garrick’s Jubilee in 1769, anniversaries of Shakespeare’s birth and death have been not just occasions of spectacle and public celebration, but also focal points for critical negotiations in the reshaping of cultural memory, involving efforts of self-positioning in wider cultural and social structures which Shakespeare’s legacies are seen, or claimed, to establish. On the basis of historical research into conflicting formations of cultural memory in the past, the project aims to do essential groundwork for the reformations of such memory to be assayed in and through the forthcoming anniversary events in Europe and beyond. Among other issues, the Verona team will discuss the Italian reception of Shakespeare in moments of crisis from Italian Risorgimento to the contemporary context, including a discussion of Francesco De Sanctis’s Course of Dramatic Literature (1846-1847) and Benedetto Croce’s 1919 “Ariosto Shakespeare e Corneille” influential essay. Importo previsto relativo alle missioni: FUR Bigliazzi: euro 2.000 FUR Calvi: euro 1.500

Project participants

Silvia Bigliazzi
Full Professor
Lisanna Calvi
Associate Professor
Research areas involved in the project
Letteratura inglese e letterature anglofone


Research facilities