On Saturday,16 April, we will be hosting a conference that will be lead by Dr. Ewan Fernie, Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) in Stratford-upon-Avon. This conference is the first in line of events we will be organising in Serbia that will celebrate William Shakespeare’s work on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

Applications for the conference are now closed. All participants will recieve final confirmations by 12 April. Conference working language is English with available Serbian translation done by Dr Nataša Šofranac from the Faculty of Philology, Belgrade University. 

Event programme

10.00 Registration
11.00 Formal opening
Clare Sears, Director Serbia and Western Balkans
Prof Zoran Paunović, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade
Prof Zorica Bečanović Nikolić, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade
11.15 Plenary | Shakespeare for Freedom
This lecture will start with the first major Shakespeare celebration: the Shakespeare Jubilee, which took place in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769. On that occasion, David Garrick - perhaps the greatest ever Shakespearean actor - at once proclaimed Shakespeare's freedom and gave it away to the people. This, Fernie will show, can be linked to the campaign for real-world freedom getting underway in England in the eighteenth century. Fernie will go on to explore the extraordinary conjunction of Shakespeare and freedom in the nineteenth-century 'Chartist' movement, especially within the militant life and work of Thomas Cooper, who called himself 'the Shakesperean General'. Fernie will also take his auditors back to an evening in 1853 at the London Tavern on the occasion of a remarkable Shakespearean presentation to honour the Hungarian freedom fighter: Louis Kossuth. And he will point out that Shakespeare is also associated with freedom by the Serbian poet, Laza Kostić. All this, he will suggest, uncovers a confident and insurgent tradition of Shakespearean freedom that is crucial to the development of modernity but which we have now largely lost.
12.15 Break
12.30 Interview with Professor Ewan Fernie | What's Shakespeare to us, or we to him?
Fascilitator: Prof Zorica Bečanović Nikolić
13.00 Coffee Break
13.45 Masterclass | Tolstoy's Attack on Shakespeare
Ewan Fernie will also offer a masterclass on the Russian novelist and reformer Leo Tolstoy's extraordinary attack on Shakespeare.  Shakespeareans have struggled to come to terms with this, but Fernie will argue that what Tolstoy says in fact can help us get close to Shakespeare. Tolstoy's essay enables us to see what the English dramatist is and what he is not. It functions as a sort of negative revelation of his positive achievement which is worth much more than mere bardolatry. Tolstoy's essay also offers a fascinatingly international perspective on Shakespeare, negotiating its own position in relation to what were then powerfully influential German views. After Fernie's presentation, there will be an opportunity for discussing a range of the topics he has touched on, including Shakespeare's aesthetics, morality, politics, religion and international influence, then and now.
14.45 Final Remarks and closing
15.00 End

About the presenter

Ewan Fernie is Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he pioneered the Shakespeare and Creativity MA programme and works closely with the RSC. His books include Shame in Shakespeare, Spiritual Shakespeares, Redcrosse: Remaking Religious Poetry for Today's World and The Demonic: Literature and Experience. He has two books out in 2016. The first is Thomas Mann and Shakespeare: Something Rich and Strange, co-edited with Tobias Döring. The second is Macbeth, Macbeth, coauthored with Simon Palfrey. This is a sequel to Shakespeare's tragedy which turns into the play again, an intensely responsive reading of the play which at the same time constitutes a brand-new fiction; the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has called it, ‘a miracle, an instant classic’. Fernie is currently completing a book for Cambridge University Press entitled Shakespeare for Freedom: Why the Plays Matter.

If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us.