understanding Macbeth

Study Day, Saturday 16 March 2019, 2.00-5.30 p.m.

Price: £50.00 / £45.00 students. Tea and coffee provided.
Venue: Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP
Bookings now open.

CAMcard holders can book at the student price. Please bring proof of status to the event. Free place for a teacher bringing 5+ students. Contact us for details:  info@literaturecambridge.co.uk

Join us for an intensive Study Day on Shakespeare's great and disturbing tragedy, Macbeth. How does the play express concerns of its own time and place? And how was it later taken up, and rewritten, in Africa, India, and other parts of the world?

There will be two lectures and a round-table seminar.

noble macbeth crown.jpg

Charles Moseley
How many cousins had noble Macbeth?

Macbeth is the most powerfully concentrated of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The focus is unremittingly on Macbeth and his metamorphosis – a concept in which Shakespeare’s period was profoundly interested – from ‘noble Macbeth’, ‘Bellona’s  bridegroom’, into ‘that dead butcher’  and the sterile abyss of his despair.

In the first part of this lecture I want to suggest some ways we might think about Macbeth’s fall  against the patterns of his theatrical relatives, ancestors and descendants, and against the passionate contemporary arguments about free will and predestination. In the second half I shall explore some facets of its probable Jacobean staging which might reflect this, and fit the play into what we know about company personnel and stage practice.

Macbeth image 1.jpg

Edward Wilson-Lee
Macbeth and the Damned of the Earth

Many readings of Macbeth focus on the highly local contexts – the Jacobean succession crisis and early-modern demonology, formations of English and British identity in the British Isles.

But it is also true that the play has fascinated readers and performers around the globe who are largely ignorant of or uninterested in these things. This lecture will look at Global Macbeth, from Verdi's opera and Orson Welles' Voodoo production to Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin's Amharic Makbez, the Malagasy Makibefo, and Vishwal Bhardwaj's Maqbool, and think about how ghosts and guilt might help us towards a conception of a Global Shakespeare.

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Our Lecturers

Dr Charles Moseley is a Life Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and author of many books and articles on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare's History Plays, Reading Shakespeare's History Plays, Shakespeare's Tempest, and many others. He contributed to The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Last Plays.

Dr Edward Wilson-Lee is a Fellow and Tutor at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His books include The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library and Shakespeare in Swahililand.



British Library plot summary of Macbeth.
Kiernan Ryan article on manhood in Macbeth, British Library website.
John Mullan article on darkness in Macbeth, British Library website.
Review of Edward Wilson-Lee’s book Shakespeare in Swahiland, Spiked online.
Review of Shakespeare in Swahiland, Kirkus Reviews, Sept. 2016.