Student presenters shine at 10th annual Shakespeare conference

Undergraduates from eleven colleges and universities across New England represented Shakespeare through scholarship and performance as they participated in the Tenth Annual Undergraduate Shakespeare Conference hosted at Clark University, on April 16.

The conference offers a prestigious showcase for student research in the humanities, and this year’s participants on the theme “Representing Shakespeare” presented one of the most successful annual events ever, said Clark Professor of English Virginia Mason Vaughan. Vaughan conceptualized the conference in 2001, aiming to emulate for Clark’s undergraduates the professorial experience of the Shakespeare Association of America’s annual meeting.

“The conference offers college students from throughout New England a unique opportunity to come together and share their research interests, whether it’s Shakespeare on film, Shakespeare in performance, Shakespeare’s language, or Shakespeare as a building block of western – and international – culture,” said Vaughan. “For many students, it’s their first pre-professional experience of delivering a research paper, taking questions, and sharing ideas.”

Barbara Mowat, director of research at Folger Shakespeare Library, executive editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, chair of the Folger Institute, and co-editor of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions, delivered the plenary lecture, “Representing Shakespeare on the Page.” 

Proposals by three Clark students were selected for public presentation at the conference. 

A paper by Heather MacKenzie ’12, titled “The Transience of Social Structure in Henry IV,” received one of two $100 prizes contributed by publishers Bedford/St. Martins and awarded for best student presentation. MacKenzie, who majors in biology at Clark, won kudos for her “nuanced reading of Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV.”

David Simpson Resnick ’11 presented “Seeing the Unseen: Hyper-Surveillance in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2008 Hamlet.”

Alexandra Tennant ’13 offered “Commedia dell’ Arte and Shakespeare: An Exploration of Katerina and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew.”

“It was an exciting chance to talk with people who are just as passionate about Shakespeare as I am,”   MacKenzie said.  “As a Conservation Biology major, my education career rarely affords me the chance to immerse myself in literary scholarship. The excitement of my fellow presenters, our advisers, and others who attended the conference made for such a positive experience!” 

Among the high points of the 2011 conference were performances of various scenes by students from Clark’s Theater Arts Department Professor Stephen Thorne’s “Shakespeare in Action” class. The conference was sponsored by the Clark University Higgins School of Humanities and the Colleges of Worcester Consortium.

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