Abused and ridiculed, despised and pitied, the figure of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, remains for many, the epitome of the marginalised Jew in European literary imagination. Set in 16th-century Venice, the play employs deeply-rooted stereotypes linking Jews with money, while exploring the nature of love, prejudice, greed and revenge. Performances of The Merchant of Venice provoke strong emotions and heated debates on some of the most fraught questions in Jewish-Christian relations. Join us to watch the acclaimed 2004 cinematic adaptation of the play, directed by Michael Radford and starring Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino and for the panel discussion that follows.
2.00 – 4.15 Film screening
4.15 – 4.30 Break
4.30 – 5.30 Panel discussion
In the panel discussion speakers will consider Shakespeare’s complex engagement with anti-Jewish stereotypes circulating in his time, its significance for understanding the relation between religious and economic issues in the history of anti-Jewish prejudice and the ethical and political questions which the play raises. Questions and answers and an open discussion will follow.
About the panel speakers: Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford, with a special interest in the particular readings of Shakespeare’s plays. Filippo De Vivo, is a Professor of Early Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London whose research focuses on early modern Italy and the Republic of Venice.
Chair: Professor Anthony Bale, Birkbeck, University of London.