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Lecture series to consider Shakespeare's Catholicism

Author: Arts and Letters


William Shakespeare’s relationship with the Catholic Church will be the subject of this year’s Catholic Culture Lecture Series at the University of Notre Dame.

The lectures, which are annually sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture, will concern the Bard’s religious faith and ecclesial allegiances, both increasingly controversial topics in Shakespearean studies.

All lectures in the series will take place at 8p.m. in Room 155 of DeBartolo Hall, and all are free and open to the public.

Joseph Pearce, professor of literature and writer-in-residence at Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., will give a lecture entitled “Will the Real Shakespeare Please Stand Up? Evidence for the Bard’s Catholicism” on Tuesday (Sept. 18). Pearce is the author of 14 books, most of them literary biographies of such writers as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkien and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He also is editor of the Saint Austin Review, a monthly cultural journal.

Peter Holland, McMeel Family Professor in Shakespeare Studies at Notre Dame and acting dean of the University’s Graduate School, will give a lecture on “Cracking the Shakespeare Code” on Sept. 25 (Tuesday). Holland, who earned his doctorate at the University of Cambridge, came to Notre Dame in 2002, having previously served as director of The Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Birmingham. Acclaimed for his performance-oriented Shakespearean criticism, Holland currently is president of the Shakespeare Association of America and editor of Shakespeare Survey, one of the world’s leading journals in the field.

John Finnis, Biolchini Family Professor of Law at Notre Dame and professor of law and legal philosophy at Oxford, will speak on “The Audacity of Shakespeare’s Non-recusant Catholicism” on Oct. 2 (Tuesday). Finnis teaches courses on jurisprudence; the social, political and legal theory of Thomas Aquinas; and the social, political and legal theory of Shakespeare. In addition to numerous books and articles on law, legal theory, moral and political philosophy, moral theology, and the history of the late Elizabethan era, he is the author of such articles as “The Thing I am: Personal Identity in Aquinas and Shakespeare” and “Shakespeare’s Intercession for Love’s Martyr.”

Clare Asquith, author of “Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare,” will give a lecture on “Shakespeare’s Dark Matter” on Oct. 9 (Tuesday). For nearly 10 years, Asquith has studied and written on the similarities between censorship under communism and under the repressive regimes of Shakespearean England. Commenting on “Shadowplay,” her most recent book on Shakespeare, the critic John Guy said that “even if only half of Clare Asquith’s argument turns out to be correct, she’s written the most visceral, challenging, compelling book on Shakespeare’s place in history we’ve had for 20 years.”

Contact: Elizabeth R. Kirk, associate director of the Center for Ethics and Culture at 574-631-0492 or

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on September 17, 2007.