About Lloyd Davis Memorial Public Lecture

“What Shall Cordelia Speak?: The Politics of Blank Verse”

Starting from Cordelia’s question in King Lear, this lecture will examine the relationship between Shakespeare’s poetry and early modern ideas about unconstrained, “free” speech at a time when neither eloquence nor plain speaking could secure the right to speak one’s mind. The presentation will explore the connection between poetic fluency with the specifically political idea of unfettered speech. Professor Callaghan will argue that the technical constraints of Shakespeare’s verse paradoxically work not only to a authorize freedom of expression but also to question ideological and political restriction.

About the Presenter

Professor Dympna Callaghan
Dympna Callaghan is William L. Safire Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English at Syracuse University. She has published widely on the playwrights and poets of the English Renaissance and was President of the Shakespeare Association of America in 2012-13. Callaghan has held fellowships at the Folger, Huntington and Newberry Libraries, at the Getty Research Centre in Los Angeles, and, most recently, at the Bogliasco Center for Arts and Humanities in Liguria, Italy (2014). She is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and she has been appointed Lloyd Davis distinguished fellow at the University of Queensland Australia for 2015.


Her most recent books are Who Was William Shakespeare? (2013) and Hamlet: Language and Writing (2015). She is the editor of the book series Arden Language and Writing, and co-editor, with Michael Dobson of the Palgrave Shakespeare monograph series. Currently, she is co-editing with Suzanne Gossett, Shakespeare in Our Time, a volume prepared on behalf of the Shakespeare Association of America to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Among other current projects, she is writing about the relationship between poetic fluency and freedom of speech.

RSVP to Brittany Smethills for catering purposes (b.smethills@uq.edu.au


Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio, UQ St Lucia