Research Lecture: Professor Bradin Cormack (Princeton University)

‘In the Time of Example: Case Thinking in Shakespearean Drama’

Thursday 15 May, 2014, 3.15 pm
Garden Seminar Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English

Bradin Cormack, Professor of English at Princeton University and Corresponding Professor of CMEMLL, will give a paper entitled ‘In the time of example: case thinking in Shakespearean Drama.’

As Professor Cormack explains:

‘This paper places Shakespeare’s comedies, in particular The Comedy of Errors and The Merchant of Venice, in the double context of case-jurisprudence in the sixteenth-century common law and of exemplarity in sixteenth-century historiographical writing. It suggests that Shakespeare’s comedies are marked microtextually and structurally by the consideration not only of the rhetorical impact of examples but, more basically, of what, logically, the example is such that it might constitute knowledge. I will be considering in particular the question of how examples or cases relate to time, and, in addition to Shakespeare, I will consider some passages in Sidney’s Defense, which is of course notorious for the case it makes for the case.

My talk, which will focus on Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors with some attention to Sidney, will be self-explanatory. If you would like to read something in advance, I suggest Agamben’s essay “What is a Paradigm,” which informs some of the ways in which I am thinking about example.’

Professor Cormack is author of A Power to Do Justice: Jurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise of Common Law, 1509-1625 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2007) and of Book Use, Book Theory, co-authored with Carla Mazzio (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Library, 2005).

He is co-editor, with Leonard Barkan and Sean Keilen, of The Forms of Renaissance Thought: New Essays on Literature and Culture (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and, with Richard Strier and Martha Nussbaum, of Shakespeare and the Law: A Conversation among the Disciplines and Professions (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

He has published on issues of sovereignty in Shakespeare Quarterly, and he is currently working on two books, a philosophical study of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a short monograph on Shakespeare and Law.


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