Saturday, March 10, 2012

A talk on Holinshed

Last night, I attended a talk at Columbia University on "Shakespeare and Holinshed's Use of Anecdote," which was given by Barbara Traister of Lehigh University. Her talk focused on the 1577 and 1587 editions of Holinshed's Chronicles, of which Raphael Holinshed himself edited the earlier 1577 version. Professor Traister discussed the use of anecdotes throughout both editions and how they function differently in each.

I was most interested by how the anecdote of the Armorer and the Apprentice (which appears in the 1587 edition only) gets picked up and used by Shakespeare in 2 Henry VI as Thomas Horner and Peter Thump. This was especially fun as I've just reread this play for my directed research and I'm editing our script right now. It was pointed out during the Q&A that Shakespeare uses anecdotes much more frequently (and simplistically) in the earlier tetralogy. Professor Traister briefly addressed how there is a string of anecdotes running throughout 2 Henry VI. Another scholar speculated that the Eastcheap contingent of the second tetralogy might be the more sophisticated development of the anecdotal "string" or line of the earlier works.

What I loved most about attending this talk last night was the sense of shared work, interest, and community. Certainly we all have different points of view and specific projects, but it was great to come together, hear about the research that Professor Traister is doing, and feel the support from others for this work. And it's also great to see how my interests coincide with other scholars'. It makes me feel less like a humble student, and more like a "real" scholar doing "real" work

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