Lecture by Holberg Laureate Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University.
Introduction by Professor Margareth Hagen, Dean of the Humanities, University of Bergen.
The clown in Titus Andronicus, young Flute the bellows-mender (“I have a beard coming”) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the drunken Barnadine in Measure for Measure, Caliban in The Tempest, along with dozens of other characters, possess a presence, a compelling immediacy, far in excess of the strict necessity of the plots in which they appear. In some instances, Shakespeare’s plots almost collapse under the force of this vehement, insistent life. The greatest example is the villainous Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. And Shylock, Greenblatt will argue, offers us insight into the Humanities’ special contribution to the challenge of living together with those whom we may distrust and dislike.