The Shakespeare’s Rome Project

“The Shakespeare’s Rome Project” started in 2004 as a Department Research Programme at Roma Tre University in the former Department of Comparative Literature,  now Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, at the initiative of Maria Del Sapio Garbero.

Over the years a number of national and international scholars of English Literature participated in the project within an interdisciplinary and intercultural context. In its initial stages the project profited from the collaboration with the Palladium Theatre (Rome Tre University), the CROMA (“Interdepartmental Centre for the Study of Rome” at Roma Tre University), and the Socrates Erasmus Programme ETNP Acume 2 “Interfacing Science, Literature and the Humanities” (2006-2009).

Two important international events have recently been held at Roma Tre University: Shakespeare 2016. The Memory of Rome (2016, in partnership with Sapienza University of Rome and University of Rome Tor Vergata) and the ESRA Conference (European Shakespeare Research Association) on Shakespeare and European Geographies: Centralities and Elsewheres (2019).

Today new partnerships have been established, first of all with the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre in Rome, whose digital Archive has been created by the Department of Foreign Languages Literatures and Cultures where it is hosted (Project Director: Maddalena Pennacchia). Audio/Visual Romans, a project funded by UCL Cities Partnerships Programme (2019-20) is also one of the current developments. 

Over recent decades literary theory has made of Shakespeare and his reception a testing ground for its most challenging cruces, thus involving comparative studies, interdisciplinarity, gender studies, postcolonial studies, translation studies, media studies, global studies, performance studies as well as practices and modes of adaptation, appropriation and rewriting in an intercultural and intersemiotic perspective.

In the face of such a revision of theoretical concerns and methodological tools the role of Ancient Rome in Shakespeare’s corpus is proving itself broader than it was already acknowledged. “The Shakespeare’s Rome Project” fits in this problematised international critical agenda, favoured by a prestigious tradition of Shakespearean and Renaissance studies based at Roma Tre University with renowned Italian scholars  as Vanna Gentili, who devoted a monograph to the topic in 1991 (La Roma antica  degli elisabettiani), Giorgio Melchiori, Viola Papetti, Masolino d’Amico.

In an age when there is an increasing interest in bringing to the fore themes entailing the relationship between literature and the cultural dynamics, Shakespeare, and more specifically the Shakespeare addressing the multifaceted culture of Ancient Rome, catalyses issues which reveal to be crucial both in relation to the Humanist and Renaissance Europe and the everchanging challanges of our own present.

Drawing on Shakespeare’s Roman works (Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, The Rape of Lucrece) and more broadly the theme of Romanitas in the Shakespearean macro-text, “The Shakespeare’s Rome Project” focalises the research on dramaturgy and hermeneutics as well as theory and cultural issues: the dynamics of Rome’s cultural heritage, the relationship between memory, theatre and media, between the literary text and the textuality of history; the intercultural functionality of source typology in relation to translation, ways of reading and learning, the history of the book; the politics of appropriation; the agonistic interplay of identity and difference in respect to the Roman model; the tension between local and global, centre and periphery in the construction of an emergent imperial identity in early modern England; but also the forms of reproduction and the transmission of Shakespearean Rome in the ensuing ages.

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