Cambridge-Szeged Society online talk: Attila Kiss on Shakespeare in Hungary

Events — ZOOM
14 December 2020, 20:15
A portrait of William Shakespeare.
Portrait of William Shakespeare.

Zoom talk on the part Shakespeare played in building a Hungarian national identity in the nineteenth century.

An online talk by Dr. Attila Kiss (University of Szeged, Department of English / Research Group for Cultural Iconology and Semiography (REGCIS)

From the early nineteenth century on, the Shakespeare name and brand have been disseminated and deployed as the standard against which the cultural maturity of a nation was to be measured in a world which was witnessing a growing dominance of Anglo-Saxon powers. Several post-structuralist critical orientations havemapped out the interrelationships and antagonisms of cultural imperialism, canonization and ideological technologies of authorship, including the formation and the use of the cult of Shakespeare. Two names, Herder and Shakespeare, coin a very special couple in the history of Hungary under the suppressive reign of the Habsburg Empire at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I would like to elaborate on this peculiar pair and their influence on the emergent Hungarian national identity, which repeatedly had to define and defend itself in opposition to the higher Austrian powers. My contention is that the history of Shakespeare's reception in Hungary is demonstrative of the agency of the name of the author, and we can throw new light on this specific Foucauldian author function if we approach it through the presence and impact of Herder on the cultural attempts at self-definition in Hungary. This method will help us arrive at a more complete understanding of the cultural logic of the cult of Shakespeare in Hungary, and literary cults in general.

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