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Virtual Meeting

The UC Davis History Department invites you to the 2021 Eugene Lunn Memorial Lecture, which is free and open to the public. It will be delivered by Professor Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard University, who will speak on “Shakespeare’s Second Chance” at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 4, followed by a Q&A session. Registration information is below.

Stephen Greenblatt: Shakespeare’s Second Chance

Each year the Lunn Lecture presents a distinguished scholar who speaks to a broad public. There are few who have done this so well as this year’s Pulitzer Prize winning author, whose books and essays have covered a wide range of topics, from a history of original sin in Western culture (The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, 2017) to the works and life of William Shakespeare (Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, 2004), to the origins of modernity nestled within the rucksack of a Renaissance book collector (The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, 2011).

The Lunn Memorial Lecture is an annual event at UCD, commemorating the life and work of Eugene Lunn. He was a highly regarded historian of modern European thought and culture who captivated specialists and students alike. His inspirational abilities are carried forward in this lecture series; we hope that you can join us for a celebratory and stimulating occasion.

In 1610, the 46-year-old Shakespeare wrote The Winter’s Tale, a play about a 46-year-old king who recovers a wife and a daughter whom he believed he had irrevocably lost. He borrowed the plot from a potboiler written years earlier by his old nemesis Robert Greene. Even though very few details actually match Shakespeare’s life, there is something striking in his engagement with a story in which a father, haunted by a sense of guilt for the death of his only son, is reunited years later with the daughter whom he had cast away as an infant. Taking this story over from Greene, Shakespeare radically rewrote its ending to give the wayward husband the opportunity to repair his damaged relationship with his wife. The Winter’s Tale can be viewed as a template for understanding what it takes, according to Shakespeare, to have a second chance in life.

Stephen Greenblatt is an American Shakespearean, literary historian and author. He has served as the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University since 2000. Greenblatt is the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare (2015) and the general editor and contributor to The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Greenblatt is one of the founders of New Historicism, a set of critical practices that he often refers to as "cultural poetics.” He won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2012 and the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2011 for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.

This annual lectureship honors cultural historian Eugene Lunn, who during 20 years as a member of the faculty in the UC Davis Department of History distinguished himself as an esteemed teacher and mentor, and an influential scholar in the field of modern European intellectual history.
This lecture is organized by the UC Davis Department of History. Co-sponsored by the Manetti Shrem Museum; the lecture is made possible by a generous donation from Michael Tennefoss.

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Michael Saler

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