Shakespeare and Terrorism
Free Public Lecture
Macmahon Ball Theatre
T: (03) 9035 5092
The word ‘terrorism’ had not yet been coined in Shakespeare’s day, but Shakespeare and his contemporaries were immersed in a political world where what we now call terrorist violence was a common occurrence. Shakespeare’s response to terrorism is characteristically complex and ambivalent. He ‘resists the resistance’, as one scholar has put it, but he is also capable of entering the minds of terrorist conspirators and showing us sympathetically what happens in them. Shakespeare is especially alert to the problem of terrorist violence as a form of political speech. This paper looks at The Tempest, Macbeth, and above all Julius Caesar to examine how terrorism works as political language in Shakespeare’s world, and how difficult it is for that language to succeed in delivering its political message.
Dr. Robert Appelbaum received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently Professor of English Literature at Uppsala University Sweden.