Gave a Visiting Fellowship Lecture, “Melancholic Subjectivity, Modes of Production, and the Utopian Rhetoric of Shakespeare’s Richard II“, 9 March 2022, 430–530 pm for a Research Seminar Series, Faculty of Arts, The University of Winchester, UK. Organized and introduced by Prof. Inga Bryden. Attendees included, inter alia, multiple from the University of Winchester, Antonio Cerella (Nottingham Trent University), and Christopher Norris (Cardiff University).
The historical energy of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard II (1595) permits access to the literary-historical roots of a transition from the medieval to the modern world. This historical gulf still unfolds and stretches out in the ongoing crises of a now late capitalist modernity that requires another notion of a genuinely global subject and new forms of knowledge. In this light, this talk argues for a dual and paradoxical reading of Shakespeare’s historical-tragical play text The Tragedy of King Richard II. I shall contend that Richard may be seen not only as he is commonly viewed – an incompetent ruler and a brilliant rhetorician – but also as a redemptive and psychoanalytic split subject, one which also proves him the unconsciously contriving architect of his own downfall to political, redemptive, and rhetorical effect, which may mediate new communal forms of life and modes of production.
This dissentient view of Richard II as the co-operative architect of his usurpation arrives at this conclusion with three focuses: the delineation of Richard II’s melancholic and transindividual (shared) subjectivity, the special challenge of instituting new forms of knowledge toward a new mode of production, and finally, the role of utopian rhetoric and language, particularly Richard’s, in the play.