Colloquium: Julia Lupton

Date(s) - 01/25/2018
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

The Wall


The Humanities Center welcomes Julia Lupton,  English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, as our Colloquium speaker on Thursday, January 25th at 3:00 PM in 4010 JFSB.

“Trust in Theater: An Entry into Shakespeare’s Virtues”

In his Letter 88, Seneca writes disparagingly of literary scholarship: The scholar busies himself with investigations into language, and if it be his desire to farther afield, he works on history, or if he would extend his range to the farthest limit, on poetry. But which of these ways paves the way to virtue?

Seneca’s comments remain uncannily timely. In our scholarly delight in the intricacies of language, history, and poetics, do we lose sight of the larger purpose or intended ends of our work, whatever those might be? Moreover, do we even strategically avoid answering such questions, because discussions of virtue feel old-fashioned, or coercive, or soft, or preachy, or mildly embarrassing, belonging to private life and weekend worship rather than to our vocations as professors of literature? In any case, retreating into our books is easier than confronting human suffering and the facts of mortality. Yet as humanities majors decline, as public life becomes increasingly fractured, and as consumerism and professionalism increasingly dictate our forms of self-realization, it is time to re-appropriate and mobilize virtue as one of the deepest layers and most powerful resources of literary scholarship and education. Studying the virtues as they functioned in the age of Shakespeare, a period heir to classical and monotheistic virtues and on the cusp of the modern ethics of Rousseau, Kant and Hume, is a simultaneously historical and practical project with implications for scholarship, teaching, and public life. In this presentation, Julia Lupton will present an overview of her new work on Shakespeare’ virtues. Participants are welcome to read and discuss her essay, “Trust in Theater,” in advance of the session.


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