Representing Disability in Shakespeare’s World Video

Image: Charity table painting from St Nicholas Church, Alcester, Warwickshire.

On Monday, 9th November 2020, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, there was a FREE online event exploring social representations and attitudes toward disability in the 17th century and today.

You can view the video at:

Using insights from history and disability studies, this event drew from Shakespearean England to explore social representations and attitudes toward disability across historical eras and in the context of military life. It featured a pre-recorded mini lecture to introduce an online screening of videos, followed up by recorded online discussion.

The videos includes a production by actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), along with two freelance actors with disabilities. A series of video monologues of extracts from Shakespeare’s plays which portray people with disabilities caused by war are featured. Alongside this, the actors recite, dramatize and perform short petitions that survive from wounded soldiers applying for the first state military pensions during Shakespeare’s day and the years immediately afterwards. These were drawn from the University of Leicester and THE CENTRE FOR ENGLISH LOCAL HISTORY led Civil War Petitions project 

The video outputs and recited petitions are accompanied by filmed commentaries and discussion from experts including an academic from the Shakespeare Institute, early modern historians, disability studies scholars, representatives from arts and military organisations, and the actors themselves. In doing so insights and critical reflection on contemporary representation and attitudes toward disability, as well as equality and social support for those with disability, are provided.

For more information about the Civil War Petitions project please contact Prof. Andy Hopper, Director of THE CENTRE FOR ENGLISH LOCAL HISTORY at the University of Leicester

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