Congress 2012

Congress is one of those annual meetings that I have been meaning to get to for… well, forever, it seems.  It is (for those of you not from Canada or who aren’t academics) the biggest conference in the social sciences and humanities in Canada.  Every year one (or this year two) university(ies) play host to literally thousands of academics from across the nation.

It is a chance to network, to catch up with old friends, to make new friends, to hear about the job situation, to despair about the job situation, to join associations… oh, and to hear papers on topics as diverse as Lady Gaga’s performance of celebrity to the ways in which the American poet Helen Adam developed and commented upon the traditions of witchcraft in the mid-20th century.
Where most networking actually happens.
My paper this year was on Shakespeare (go figure) and the ways in which painters from the mid 18th century to the early 19th represented Lady Macbeth on stage.  It seemed to go over well, and I would like to do more work on this in the future.  I don’t want to rehash my argument here, but I might as well show you the paintings (and pictures) that formed the core of my study.  
Zoffany, Johann.  David Garrick and Mrs. Pritchard in Macbeth
Fuseli, Henry.  David Garrick and Mrs. Pritchard as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Fuseli, Henry.  Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking
Westall, Richard.  Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking

Fuseli, Henry.  Lady Macbeth Seizing the Daggers

This work originally began as a lecture on Macbeth for a course I taught on Shakespeare, and it is a lecture I have recycled many times at this point.  Each time I look at the lecture, I become more fascinated.  I am no art historian and I make no claims to being one.  The history of the representation of Lady M in visual art is fascinating though.  She’s an incredible character, and I have to wonder what the Lady M of Shakespeare (before Middleton adulterated the text in 1616) would have been like.  Would she have had more to do in Act IV?  Who knows?

Anyhow, Congress, yes, back to that.  Wonderful papers.  Some really excellent and interesting work being done on Woman Killed with Kindness and Merchant of Venice which I will have to follow up on, as well as a paper on a pornographic political pamphlet from 1642 that really got me thinking.  I look forward to next year’s Congress which I will hopefully be able to make it to, even though it is all the way out in Victoria.  Long way away, but still…


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