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Professor Studies Shakespeare during Sabbatical


English professor Dr. Rosanne Denhard will head back to England this month to continue her interdisciplinary literary and historical-cultural research. Her return to the United Kingdom comes on the heels of her participation in the World Shakespeare Congress 2016, held this past summer in London.

Her many activities included a study of the “Shakespeare in Ten Acts” exhibition at the British Library. The display, which marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, focused on 10 key performances that made Shakespeare a cultural icon.

Items on view included the only surviving play script written in Shakespeare’s hand, and a 17th century warning to audiences that they were about to see a woman perform on stage for the first time.

“Everything is research!” Denhard exclaimed. “In my work, artifacts from past centuries are continually revitalized through new knowledge and new connections. I bring these complex historical and cultural interactions into my teaching at MCLA and to my work with colleagues in the wider academic world.”

At the World Shakespeare Congress, Denhard participated in “Global Shakespeare: Creating and Re-Creating Shakespeare,” which was sponsored by the International Shakespeare Association and academic institutions and theatre companies. This was an extraordinary opportunity for interaction in a multifaceted field, she said.

This experience followed months of sharing her work with other teacher-scholars – as well as some theatre practitioners – in anticipation of a conference seminar, “The “Rogues, Vagabonds, and Scholars: Creative Cross-Pollination in 21st Century Approaches to Shakespeare.” During this seminar, the participants continued their conversation – this time face-to-face.

On sabbatical this semester, Denhard also presented at this London meeting “Shakespeare Studies in the Undergraduate Classroom: Performance & Context,” which bridged what often is seen as a tension between performance and scholarship, she explained.

In addition to attending a performance practices workshop at London’s Globe Theatre, Denhard had the opportunity to attend two major productions. Calling Globe Artistic Director Emma Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream “truly a production for our time,” she plans to use a video of this play as a study opportunity for her Shakespeare class this spring.

“The intellectual and creative adventures of eclecticism, and constant study and exploration, are vital to the interdisciplinary focus of my scholarly life and teaching practice dedicated to liberal arts education,” Denhard said.

During this month’s visit, she will take in two performances of John Milton’s rarely performed Comus at the Globe’s Wanamaker Playhouse, and attend a keynote presentation devoted to Queen Elizabeth I at the inaugural biennial “In the Light of Gloriana” interdisciplinary conference at the Tower of London.

Next spring, Denhard’s courses will include those that focus on the “Age of Milton” and “Shakespeare in Cultural Context.” She also will offer a British literary survey, which will span more than 1,000 years of literary history.