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What's Will Got to do with it? A Skeleton, Science, and Shakespeare's 'Bunch-Back'd Toad'

What's Will Got to do with it? A Skeleton, Science, and Shakespeare's 'Bunch-Back'd Toad'
170 St. George Street, rrom 100
Time: Jun 13th, 7:00 pm End: Jun 13th, 8:30 pm
Interest Categories: Medieval Studies (FAS), History (FAS), History & Philosophy of Science & Technology (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Drama, Theatre, Performance Studies (FAS), Comparative Literature (FAS), Book History/Print Culture, 2000-, 1500-1800, 1200-1500
Student Symposium featuring keynote by Kate Taylor, Globe & Mail

The Department of English is pleased to present:


W H A T ’ S   W I L L   G O T   T O   D O   W I T H   I T ?


JUNE  13,  2013 ,  7: 00  –  8: 30 PM


Will science overwrite Shakespeare’s influence on public perceptions of King Richard III? A group of upper- year  students  enrolled  in  an  advanced  level  English  Literature  course  at  the  University  of  Toronto  are organizing a public symposium  to explore this question. On June 13, 2013 -- scheduled just a few weeks before the 570th  anniversary of Richard III’s coronation on July 6, 1483 – Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail arts writer and novelist, will be the plenary speaker and moderator at the students’ event. According to Taylor, “The students have identified this as a great case study for the intersection of science and art in scholarship. The  notion  that  history  is  all  hard-boiled,  indisputable  fact  is  a  false  one;  history  is  greatly  subject  to interpretation,  and  in  Richard's  day  was  often  the  creature  of  myth-making.  And  yet,  the  skeleton  has provided us with tantalizingly solid evidence of the relationship between a real Richard and a fictional one. Those are the intriguing themes we are hoping to address.”
Liz Laywine, a drama specialist and one of the organizers, speaks for the students: “We believe that

Shakespeare’s  characterization  of  King  Richard  dominates  the  way  that  North  Americans  perceive  this historical  persona.  We  want  to  understand   how  the  skeleton   and  the  science  behind  the  ongoing investigations  can  potentially  change  how  Richard’s  legacy  continues  forward  in  the  North  American historical imaginary.” Eric Synnot, an actor and drama specialist, adds: “Laurence Olivier, Sir Ian McKellan, Al Pacino,  and Kevin  Spacey  are just a few of the actors  who have imagined  themselves  into Richard’s disability.  Consequently,  these  actors  have  had  a  tremendous  influence  on  how  non-specialists  perceive Richard. Now, science and technology offer digital reconstructions of Richard’s face and body. He’s been diagnosed with scoliosis, and we can measure the curvature of his spine. As an actor, I want to understand how such material evidence will influence future actors’ decisions as they prepare for this role. Will actors lose interest now that science can explain these five hundred year old mysteries?”
In short, as Bil Antoniou, an actor and English literature specialist, explains, the group is interested in

“better understanding how last February’s discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in a Leicestershire car park will impact the future of Shakespeare’s play. Most people know Richard as the evil uncle who murdered his two nephews. While the skeleton will not offer new evidence about this claim, we expect that as the skeleton raises awareness about the misconceptions and uncertainties about Richard, the now familiar legend of the princes’ murder will also come under closer scrutiny within the public domain.” Another event organiser, Spencer Reynolds, actor and drama specialist, adds, “King Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s most enduring villains. Yet, as an artist, Shakespeare was selective with his sources, and he introduced innovations that made for great theatre. There are many unknowns related to Richard III, and Shakespeare’s  portrayal of the last King of the House of York serves more as fiction than history. We’re curious, we have questions, and we want to explore this topic through a conversation with all interested Torontonians. Please join us.”

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