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Stanford scholar to shed light on magic of Shakespeare's England

by Mark Schwerin

April 7, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Stephen Orgel.
Dr. Stephen Orgel
KALAMAZOO--A Stanford University professor and renowned Shakespearean scholar will illuminate the magic of Shakespeare's England when he speaks at Western Michigan University Thursday, April 14.

Dr. Stephen Orgel is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Humanities at Stanford, where he teaches Shakespeare and early modern English theater. His presentation, titled "Open Secrets: Everyday Magic in Early Modern England," is at 7 p.m. in Room 242 of the Bernhard Center and is part of the Department of English's Scholarly Speakers Series.

In his talk, which is free and open to the public, Orgel will discuss Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus" in the context of books of household magic that were circulating when those plays were first staged.

Orgel earned a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1959. At Stanford he teaches courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama and poetry and the history of the book. His published research has investigated gender roles in the drama, the English patronage system, Stuart court masques and Renaissance performance practice, among other subjects.

His books include "The Illusion of Power," "Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England," "The Authentic Shakespeare" and "Imagining Shakespeare." General editor of "Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture" and of the new Pelican Shakespeare series, he has also edited works by Edith Wharton and Anthony Trollope.

Orgel's visit to WMU is co-sponsored by the academic journal Comparative Drama and by WMU's Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. Established in 1960, the program significantly contributes to the intellectual life of WMU and the community, providing funds for academic units to bring distinguished scholars and artists to campus. The program has supported visits by more than 600 scholars and artists representing more than 60 academic disciplines.

For more information, contact Dr. Anthony Ellis, associate professor English, at (269) 387-2606 or