Kirk Davis Jr. Annual Shakespeare Lecture
A UCI Authors event

featuring UCI PhD Jeffrey Wilson '12 (Harvard University) and actor Thomas Varga '17

Disabled King of England, charismatic Shakespearean villain, star of the first play produced by an African-American theater company, Freudian case study, skeleton under a parking lot, inspiration for House of Cards, compared to Donald Trump in the New York Times—Richard III is reinvented for every new cultural moment.  

While steeped in details of medieval English history, Shakespeare’s Richard III and its configuration of disability, villainy, and tragedy still speak to us in the twenty-first century with a surprising urgency. How is Richard III always so historical and so current? 

Jeffrey R. Wilson tells the story of Richard III’s body traveling through time into Shakespeare’s hands, on down to today. From Richard’s own manuscripts, x-rays of sixteenth-century paintings, and Shakespeare’s soliloquies to eighteenth-century editorial notes, nineteenth-century theatrical costumes, and twenty-first century disability theater, an interpretation of Richard’s body is never just an interpretation of Richard’s body. When we interpret Richard III, he interprets us in return.  New Swan actor Thomas Varga will share speeches by Shakespeare's Richard.

Jeffrey R. Wilson '12 is the author of three books, Richard III’s Bodies from Medieval England to Modernity: Shakespeare and Disability History (2022), Shakespeare and Game of Thrones (2021), and Shakespeare and Trump (2020). His work on Shakespeare and  modern culture has appeared on CNNNPRMSNBCNew York TimesSalonJSTOR DailyZocalo Public SquareAcademeCounterPunch, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Wilson is an Instructional Design Lead in the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning at Harvard University, where he creates courses and events for Harvard Online. From 2014-22, he taught the “Why Shakespeare?” course in the Harvard College Writing Program. On Twitter @DrJeffreyWilson

Thomas Varga '17 is an actor, writer, and acting teacher based in Los Angeles. His acting credits include work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New Swan Shakespeare Festival, and Counter-Balance Theater. He has appeared on shows aired by Apple TV+, Hulu Originals, Freeform, and Lifetime Movie Network. He is the full-time Game Writer for Ember Labs.

Free and open to all. This event is part of the 2022-23 UCI Authors Series, sponsored by Illuminations. To attend remotely, please register here: https://uci.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fe0Lp06hQ9S-m3QMDk7JOg