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Name: Elizabeth Hardy

PhD: Shakespeare Studies

Thesis Title:

Performing the Presence of the Female Gap: Accessing the Excess in Victorian Shakespeare



Thesis Description:


My project offers an original reading of Victorian Shakespeare through a vibrant Shakespearean reading of the Victorian period itself, considering explicitly how Shakespeare feeds life in the seismic artistic and political activity of the nineteenth century. It develops my notion of Shakespeare’s self-realising agency as a dramatic ‘presence gap’ – a dynamic whereby the imagination pushes for a new verbal form to perform in the precarious moment of creation. It ventures beyond familiar and obvious Victorian responses to Shakespeare, recovering interpretations that reach across and incorporate the ‘gap’ between them and Shakespeare, thereby reclaiming the gap in Shakespeare as a present-day vehicle of creativity and change. My study extends to non-literary forms of ‘living art’: to the revitalizing of art-as-nature via Shakespeare by William Morris, John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites; and to radical Shakespeare-inspired conceptions of universal personal liberty by political thinkers, activists and professionals such as John Stuart Mill, Robert Peel and Karl Marx, arguing that, in the  ‘gap of possibilities’ between tradition and modernity, such Victorians tapped insurgent Shakespearean energies in pursuit of a fairer world. 


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Professor Ewan Fernie - Shakespeare Institute

Dr Rebecca Mitchell - University of Birmingham

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