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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 19, 2005

Trevor To Speak On Shakespeare And Emotion Sept. 24

The works of William Shakespeare transcend the centuries, retaining relevance for modern audiences in part because they cut straight to the heart of human emotions not bound by time. Doug Trevor, associate professor of English in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will explore the ways in which The Bard's work is a reflection of his era, speaking on "Shakespeare on Passion, Deceit and Sadness," on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m. in room 40 Schaeffer Hall. This lecture and discussion session is free and open to the public as part of the college's annual Saturday Scholars series.

In a preview of his Sept. 24 presentation, Trevor will be a guest on "Talk of Iowa," WSUI AM-910, WOI AM-640, KTPR FM-91.1, and KOWI FM-90.7 on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m.

Long regarded as the preeminent expositor of human emotions in Western literature, Shakespeare's view of the human body, and the passions that emanate from within it, are in fact shaped -- and limited -- by the era in which he lived, Trevor says. While early works like "Romeo and Juliet" reflect a Neoplatonic view of the soul and its most rarefied feelings as transcending its bodily enclosure, later works, including "Hamlet" and "King Lear," demonstrate darker, more incurable psychic states beginning to take hold.

Shakespeare's turn toward these dark themes has often been read in light of what we know of his biography at this time, but Trevor suggests that other factors may contribute to this reconceptualization of the passions, and the human bodies in which they now more firmly reside. Among these factors are a number of treatises on the human emotions being written in, and translated into, English at the time, he says. "Shakespeare appears interested in reconsidering what it means to be 'human' in the early 1600s and in particular what it means to be melancholic or 'sad,' particularly when such sadness is not a state of mind we experience as much as a state of our body that cannot be changed."

Trevor joined the UI faculty in 1999 and his research and teaching spans the 16th and 17th centuries, with a particular focus on the early modern understanding of the emotions and literary depictions of the passions. In addition to his scholarly work, he is the author of, "The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space," which won the 2005 Iowa Short Fiction Award. He earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a master's and doctorate from Harvard University.

Saturday Scholars was developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of   Liberal Arts and Sciences, to give members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served. Except for Oct. 1, all presentations begin at 10 a.m. in room 40 Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest.

Upcoming lectures in the Saturday Scholars series include:

Oct. 1: "From Vaudeville to the Nickelodeon: Tin Pan Alley Singalongs," Rick Altman, Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature (Location change for this session only, E105 Adler Building)

Oct. 8: "Down and Out: Women's Poverty, Crime, and Imprisonment," Karen Heimer, Department of Sociology

Oct. 15: "Crossing the Road Safely: Children on Bicycles," Jodie Plumert, Department of Psychology

Oct. 29: "Through a Glass Darkly: Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe," Robert Mutel, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2611.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Carla Carr, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 335-2818.