Latest Update: Welcome to our new website! Explore our resources, search our podcasts, see what's on.

The Merchant of Venice

This film screening and panel discussion is one of a series exploring themes from the exhibition, Jews, Money, Myth at the Jewish Museum London (19 March – 7 July), developed in collaboration with the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism

Event Information

24th March, 2019
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Birkbeck, University of London, Room B33, Torrington Square main entrance, WC1E 7HX
Professor Emma Smith, University of Oxford; Professor Filippo De Vivo, Birkbeck, University of London

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.

Event Programme

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.

Share Article