Colloquium on “Shakespeare and Philosophy” on October 24

Madison, NJ – September 29, 2009 – “Shakespeare and Philosophy” is the topic of the 17th annual Shakespeare Colloquium to be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham, 285 Madison Avenue, in Madison, N.J. on Saturday, October 24, 2009.

Discussions will include the ways material objects empower new ways of thinking in Shakespeare, the importance of the art of lying in Shakespeare, whether and why we are moved by Shakespearean tragedy, and how German philosophers made a masterpiece of “Hamlet.”

Speakers will be Hugh Grady (Arcadia College), Eric Johnson-Debaufre, Paul Kottman (The New School), and Andrew Majeske (John Jay College). The Colloquium will be held from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in Room S-11 (Sturchio Hall), Science Building.  The program is free of charge and open to the public. The room is handicap-accessible and physical assistance will be provided for those who require it.

New Jersey teachers may receive professional development credit by attending. For further information, call 973-443-8711 or contact colloquium coordinator Harry Keyishian at or at the Department of Literature, Languages, Writing, and Philosophy, M-MS3-01, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison N.J. 07940.

Dr. Eric Johnson-Debaufre’s presentation “That Obscure Desire of Objects: Subject and Object in ‘Hamlet’” begins at 9:30 a.m. He will discuss the powerful role played by Yorick’s skull in shaping Hamlet’s changing cognition about death and subjectivity, and the ways material objects and physical contact with them actually enable new and/or previously unavailable forms of thinking in Shakespeare.

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre holds a Ph.D. from Boston University. He has written for the online journal “CounterPunch” and for “Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England,” and has taught at Luther College and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

At 10:45 a.m., Professor Andrew Majeske will discuss “Literature, Law, and the Art of Lying” in relation to “Measure for Measure” and “As You Like It” where the playwright deals directly with the education of future rulers in the art of deception – both committing it, and learning to see through it.

Andrew Majeske is an Associate Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) where he teaches Literature and Law, Shakespeare, and Medieval & Renaissance Literature. In addition to his Ph.D. in literature, Majeske has a J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and practiced law for 11 years. He is the author of “Equity in English Renaissance Literature” (2006) and editor of “Justice, Women, and Power in English Renaissance Drama” (2009).

Lunch will be available at the campus dining hall from 12-1 p.m.

At 1 p.m., Professor Paul A. Kottman, discussing “Tragic Conditions in Shakespeare,” will ask whether we are still moved by Shakespeare, and if so, why? And how?  If our typical responses to tragic events – grief, or fear and pity – shed light on the collective stakes of those events, then what do Shakespeare’s tragedies say about what we mean to one another?  In what ways might Shakespeare force us to move beyond the classical (Aristotelian, Sophoclean) ways of thinking about tragedy and social life? 

Paul A. Kottman teaches Comparative Literature and Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of “Tragic Conditions in Shakespeare” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and “A Politics of the Scene” (Stanford University Press, 2008) and is the editor of “Philosophers on Shakespeare” (Stanford University Press, 2009). He has also translated two books by the Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero and his writing has appeared in “The Oxford Literary Review,” “Shakespeare Studies,” “Theatre Journal,” the “Journal of Cultural and Religious Studies” and “The Revue Internationale de Philosophie.”

In the final presentation, starting at 2:15 p.m., Professor Hugh Grady speaks on “Aesthetics and Subjectivity in ‘Hamlet’: From Classical Aesthetics to Postmodernism.”  Professor Grady will note how late eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century Germany discourse on Shakespeare's “Hamlet” was complexly interconnected with the great literary and philosophical revolutions that produced German Idealist philosophy and German Romanticism—and much of the content of aesthetic theory.
Grady, Professor of English at Arcadia University, has published extensively in the field of Shakespeare studies, with some 35 journal and anthology articles, four monographs, and two critical anthologies. His newest book, “Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics” has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

These colloquia are made possible by grants from the Columbia University Seminar on Shakespeare and by voluntary donations. 


For Immediate Release

FDU Public Relations
   (Metropolitan Campus Office)
Fairleigh Dickinson University
1000 River Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Dina Schipper
Director, University Public Relations

Melissa Payton

FDU Public Relations
   (College at Florham Office)
Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940

Scott Giglio
Assistant Director, Public Relations

Lillian Lukac