2023 Lloyd Davis Public Lecture

Island in a Pocket: Shakespeare's History of the World

Presented by Professor Simon Palfrey, Oxford University

They say there’s but five upon this Isle; we are three of them.  
If the other two be brained like us, the State totters.  

In this one-off lecture Simon Palfrey offers a new vision of Shakespeare’s history of the world. It is an epic journey from prehistoric beginnings to a conflict-torn imminent present. An empire’s fall may weigh no more than a dropped handkerchief: and a dropped handkerchief no less.

We dive deep into pasts as we are rushed into futures. Crises come fast. Distances shrink, and we find the sudden emergence of the new. The plays become audacious experiments in world-making. This also means experiments in making humans. Shakespeare takes nothing for granted, not even the fact of humankind. We see where things come from; more importantly, we see where they go. We live amid consequences: and we are responsible for them too. This is Shakespeare’s great subject. Another way of putting it is this: here is our unfinished tale of origin.

 I think he will carry this island home in his pocket and give it his son for an apple.
And sowing the kernels of it in the sea, bring forth more islands.


Event Details

Event Date: Thursday 14 September 2023

Event Time: 5.45pm for a 6pm start, drinks and canapés 7–8pm

Event Location: May Hancock Auditorium, The Women's College, College Road, UQ

RSVP: Wednesday 13 September 2023


About the Presenter

Simon Palfrey grew up in Toowoomba and Tasmania, left Australia on a Rhodes Scholarship, and is now Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. Described by Julia Lupton as one of “the great Shakespeare scholars of our age”, Palfrey’s books include Doing Shakespeare (a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year), Shakespeare in Parts (with Tiffany Stern, Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society Book of the Year), Poor Tom: Living King Lear (a Choice American Library Society top recommendation), and Macbeth, Macbeth (with Ewan Fernie, praised as “a miracle, an instant classic” by Slavoj Žižek).

UQ Sustainable Event

The School of Communication and Arts is proud to be running a UQ Sustainable Event. 

We strive to incorporate sustainable practice into all aspects of university life, from daily operations to long-term goals for minimising our impact on the planet.

Main Image: Giovanni di Paolo, The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise, 1445.
Tempera and gold on panel, 46.4 × 52.1 cm. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975


2023 Lloyd Davis Public Lecture

Thu 14 Sep 2023 6:00pm8:00pm