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5th December 2011, 9:05am
What has Hamlet got to do with Christmas? Shakespeare authority to reveal all
Professor Simon Barker A leading Shakespeare scholar will give a public lecture that will make the audience think of the Bard’s most famous character in ways they never have before.

‘Like a Soldier to the Stage’: Field Commander Hamlet and the ends of tragedy will be delivered by Professor Simon Barker, Head of Humanities at the University of Lincoln, on Tuesday 13 December.

Prof Barker, who joined the University earlier this year, is an authority on war and nation in the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and how they are still influencing the ways in which we represent warfare in modern times.

“From Stratford’s experiences in the Second World War, to Colonel Tim Collins’ famous speech to troops on the eve of the Iraq war, Shakespeare is associated with more images of militarism than first thought,” said Professor Barker.

“My lecture will consider the figure of Hamlet as an object of curiosity; a ‘character’ quite apart from Shakespeare’s play, whether in the psychiatrist’s chair or in the world of comedy and advertising.

“These various Hamlets are a measure of the significance of Shakespeare as a long-present and continuing force in both high and popular culture.

“The lecture concludes, however, with the view that Hamlet’s most coherent identity is his most overlooked and possibly his most controversial; an identity completely omitted from the recent Stratford productions, but one that has much to say about the meaning of tragedy in general.”

Prof Barker says he will also reveal to the audience on the night a surprising association between Hamlet and Christmas.

The event at the University’s Jackson Theatre in the Main Building is free to attend and starts at 6pm. Visit the Events page for details of how to book.

Biographical note

Simon Barker is Professor of English Literature and Head of Lincoln School of Humanities.

Before joining the University of Lincoln Simon Barker was Professor of English Literature at the University of Gloucestershire and before that Head of English at the University of Winchester. He has also taught at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, for the University of Wales, and for the Workers’ Educational Association.

He has published widely on literature and the performing arts with a special emphasis on the theatre of the late-Tudor and early-Stuart periods. Early books included, with Colin Haydon, Winchester: History and Literature, and an edition of a John Ford play for the Routledge English Texts series. In 2002 he edited Wartime Refractions, a special issue of the journal Literature and History.

He is co-editor with Hilary Hinds of The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama (2003) and Macmillan published Shakespeare’s Problem Plays in 2005. Two more recent books, both published in 2007, are his edition of Thomas Deloney’s The Gentle Craft (a popular Elizabethan history of shoemakers) for Ashgate, and War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries for Edinburgh University Press.

His many other publications include studies of twentieth-century theatre and television. In 2010 he worked with Jo Gill to produce Literature as history: Essays in Honour of Peter Widdowson for Continuum.

He is presently writing an account of the life and work of John Galsworthy, which will include an analysis of the reception of the film, stage, and television adaptations of The Forsyte Saga.

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