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Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies (McGill University) presents the 2019 Collins Lecture: "Shakespeare's Reformations: Thinking with Conversion"

The Dan S. Collins Lecture

In a recent essay, "Shakespeare's Theatre of Conversion," Paul Yachnin argued that Shakespeare's theatre grew out of the early modern "crisis of conversion." Shakespeare's theatre, the essay argues, enabled English men and women to begin to heal themselves in the wake of the social trauma visited on them by the multiple transformations of the national church that unfolded from Henry VIII to Elizabeth. In this lecture, Yachnin rethinks his "trauma theory" account of the theatre. He suggests that, while a crisis of conversion was indeed a major feature of Shakespeare's world and is a central and underrecognized feature of his drama, Shakespeare is at his most creative and most influential when he thinks with conversion rather than thinking about it.

Paul Yachnin is Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at McGill University; Director, Early Modern Conversions Project; and Director, TRaCE Project.  His recent publications include Shakespeare’s World of Words (Bloomsbury, 2015); Forms of Association: Making Publics in Early Modern Europe, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015); and Shakespeare and CharacterTheory, History, Performance, and Theatrical Persons (Palgrave, 2009). His next book, Making Publics in Shakespeare’s Playhouse, is forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press.

He is the recipient of several SSHRC Partnership grants, including Early Modern Conversions and Making Publics. He has published articles in English Literary Renaissance, Shakespeare Quarterly, English Literary History (ELH), and Theatre Journal. He has also edited editions of Shakespeare's work for Broadview and Oxford University Presses.

The English Department's annual Dan S. Collins Lecture is delivered by a leading scholar in the field of early modern literature. The lecture is named for Dan S. Collins, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1957 until his retirement in 1987. Collins co-founded English Literary Renaissance in 1971, a journal devoted to current criticism and scholarship of Tudor and early Stuart English literature, 1485-1665. 

This event will be held in The Old Chapel.