New Perspectives on As You Like It

Agrégation d’anglais

Scientific committee :
- Sophie Chiari, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand II
- Sophie Lemercier-Goddard, ENS Lyon
- Michèle Vignaux, Université Lyon II

As You Like It’s entry on the Stationers’ Register on August 4, 1600, “to be staied” from publication, and its first and late publication in Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio, seem to indicate a successful play which the Lord Chamberlain’s Men wanted to keep as their exclusive property. Its popularity never faded.

A light-hearted comedy striving to achieve harmony, it gives pride of place to cross-dressing and metatheatricality. Through a vivid and witty language emphasizing constant interactions between prose and poetry, the play examines the implications of true love from the point of view of a strong-minded heroine, Rosalind, who joyfully challenges all the established codes of love and courtship.

A favourite with audiences and critics alike, As You Like It owes part of its appeal to its seemingly endless capacity for recreation—the play has indeed be seen as "a set of paradoxes and contradictions that can be turned into a multitude of coexistent interpretations" (Hattaway 4). Despite the apparent simplicity of its plot, As You Like It is a "play of ‘if’, of pretending, of feigning" (Hunt 6), offering a multiplicity of mirror games, from its binary and symmetrical structure to its linguistic games and ritual inversions. Yet the play’s “true delights” (V.4.182) should not overshadow its deep social and political relevance. The Forest of Arden, where the characters flee in the hope of escaping the constraints of court life, is assuredly no paradise. All realize that internal struggles are still rife in the pastoral world, and that deceit and illusion must be used as weapons in order to survive.

This international conference will shed fresh light on Shakespeare’s comedy, which was recently added to the syllabus of Agrégation students for the academic years 2017 and 2018. It will feature Michael Hattaway, editor of the New Cambridge Shakespeare (2009), as its keynote speaker. Organizers welcome a variety of topics highlighting the richness and complexity of the play, and especially papers that will reflect recent critical approaches in Shakespearean studies.

Quoted works :
- William Shakespeare, As You Like It, ed. Michal Hattaway, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, (updated ed. 2009), 2012.
- Maurice A. Hunt, Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Late Elizabethan Culture and Literary Representation, New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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New Perspectives on As You Like It