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University Professor delivers keynote at world’s leading Shakespeare conference

Professor Simon Barker

A UNIVERSITY of Chichester Professor of English Literature has delivered a keynote address to one of the world’s most prestigious Shakespeare conferences.

Professor Simon Barker spoke at the renowned International Shakespeare Conference, which brings together almost 200 of the globe’s leading scholars every two years on an invitation-only basis. The event was hosted in July at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The overall theme was Shakespeare and War, partly in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, but also acknowledging the centrality of war to the human experience and to the arts which reflect and evaluate that experience.

Professor Barker, from the Department of Humanities at the University, has published widely on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, medieval and Renaissance poetry and prose, and many other areas of cultural history. He is particularly interested in the relations between theatre and warfare, critical theory and practice, and literature and historiography.

His many books include War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries for Edinburgh University Press, Shakespeare’s Problem Plays for Palgrave, and an edition of Thomas Deloney’s The Gentle Craft for Ashgate. He is co-editor (with Hilary Hinds) of The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama.

Professor Barker said: “It was a great honour to address the conference. My paper, Illyrian Knights: Shakespeare, Comedy, War, concerned not only perceptions of warfare in the time of Shakespeare but also the way that Shakespeare has been recruited to speak about war in our own times as a kind of ‘war poet’. More specifically, I was concerned to show that war can be as critical to Shakespearean comedy, including Twelfth Night, as it is to the tragedies, the history plays and those set in classical times.”

Professor Simon Barker spoke at the renowned International Shakespeare Conference

The conference is organised in association with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company. This year’s event welcomed the actor Christopher Eccleston to its proceedings, who offered insights into the current RSC production of Macbeth in which he is playing the title role.

To find out more about Professor Simon Barker and his research at the University of Chichester visit