Worcester State University
English Department


2014 Undergraduate Shakespeare Conference

Worcester State University is pleased to host the Undergraduate Shakespeare Conference Consortium's 13th annual conference on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Blue Lounge of our Student Center (registration from 9-9:30 a.m.) on the theme of:

“Shakespeare Noir: Destabilization, Corruption, Irruption, Illumination, Liberation”

William ShakespeareMuch like film noir in the 1940s and 1950s, Shakespeare’s drama and poetry explore the seamy underside of order, respectability, and morality. This conference will look for papers that explore how texts and performances related to Shakespeare destabilize, expose, or illuminate the faux stability of the Elizabethan world picture or the various eras in which the plays and poems have been presented and studied, as well as fetishized.



Papers could but are not limited to exploring how Shakespeare’s plays and poems themselves
challenge views of:

  • government
  • religion and faith
  • the demonic and the divine
  • class and gender roles
  • science and nature
  • the virtue or destructiveness of art (especially in terms of the theatre)


how Shakespeare and his work have been marshaled/manipulated/exploited to reflect specific political, social, philosophical, and aesthetic views through

  • stage and film productions
  • paratexts or adaptations on the page, stage, or screen
  • literary criticism, etc.

Proposals of approximately 300 words were due March 14, 2014.

Paper length should be gauged for 15 minutes reading time.

$10.00 conference registration fee includes lunch, speaker, and selections from the Worcester State Theatre production of "Twelfth Night."

Sponsored by a consortium of area colleges: Assumption College, Bentley University, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Fitchburg State University, UMass Boston and Worcester State University.

WSU sponsors are the English Department and Office of Academic Affairs With support from the WSU Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Other co-sponsor: Bedford/St. Martin's Publishers

Worcester State Theatre will present Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" April 24-26 at 8 p.m. and April 27 at 2 p.m. Visit the Visual and Performing Arts Department website for ticket information.

Contact Professor of English Sharon Yang, Ph.D., for more information: syang@worcester.edu.

Plenary Lecture: "Shakespeare's Black Veil: Learning to Noir"
By Dr. Steve Urkowitz

Plenary Speaker Steve Urkowitz, Ph.D., says about his scheduled lecture: "While some of Shakespeare's plays now have all the bleak flavors of coal-dust, he had to learn how to shape characters and events to achieve such Nour-ishment. The historical character of Richard of Gloucester, who becomes bloody Richard the Third, in early versions appears almost comical, but later the lighter notes vanish until finally he becomes one of literature's darkest villains. We'll track Shakespeare's murderers, a necrophiliac, and several terrorists as they grow."

Urkowitz, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, may well be the only Shakespeare scholar with a Grammy nomination to his credit. His twofold interests—music and Shakespeare—make for a fascinating career: The Grammy nomination (1973, Early American Vocal Music, Nonesuch Records) owes to Dr. Urkowitz’s having coached singers in dramatic delivery of song-texts, a task he has undertaken for approximately fifty different musical programs. Wearing his other hat, Dr. Urkowitz has produced a landmark study examining the so-called “Bad Quarto” of King Lear, a version which, he argues, Shakespeare himself revised for the Folio version of the play. This study has led Dr. Urkowitz to his current work-in-progress, tentatively titled Shakespeare’s Revision of Everything Else: The Bad Quartos as Authorial Drafts. In addition he is the author of more than twenty essays and articles on Shakespeare, Shakespearean textual studies, and pedagogy.  His directing credentials include a King Lear staged in France (with a female protagonist), a Second Shepherds’ Play that toured various schools in Maine, and many annual university theater productions of classical plays by Shakespeare and other great dramatists.

Urkowitz is an emeritus professor at the City University of New York, where, prior to his retirement, he served as professor of English and theater from 1987 to 2007, with duties as English Department chair from 1994-1997. His fifty years of teaching have taken him to various other campuses—Hofstra University, SUNY New York Maritime, Medgar Evers College, Baruch College, and, early in his career, secondary schools in New York City. He has also held visiting appointments in Europe, at the Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, and at the Folger Shakespeare Library, to name only a few such postings.  He was a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow in 1983.

Related Links

Conference Schedule 

Directions to WSU Campus 

Registration ended on April 11. Those who wish to attend may register at the door.

DataBridge © WSU, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01602
Phone: 508-929-8000