Music and Myth in "The Winter's Tale": An Afternoon Symposium

Department: Shakespeare Center

Date and Time: August 15, 2018 | 2:00 PM-5:00 PM

Event Location: Winifred Smith Hall, UCI (Arts Plaza)

Event Details

The Winter's Tale, New Swan Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Paul Kennedy

The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's most beautiful and mysterious plays, and music plays a large role in building its dramatic action and tuning its festive atmosphere. Meet Autolycus, the ballad monger, who sells his printed wares for country folks to sing. And let music help awake your faith at the play's magical ending. This special half-day symposium celebrates music and myth in The Winter's Tale. Join us for two lectures by distinguished professors from UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego, and take part in our exciting recreation of England's lively ballad culture with singer-musicolgist Erik Bell. You will get to take home a copy of a Renaissance ballad, a fascinating document of how music happened in the age of Shakespeare.

Ballading The Winter's Tale: Lecture and Performance
Patricia Fumerton, Professor of English, UCSB
Erik Bell, singer and musicologist
Sara Bashore, violinist
English Broadside and Ballad Archive

4:00pm: A Ballad in Print: Music, Myth and Literary Making in The Winter's Tale: Lecture
Seth Lerer, Distinguished Professor of Literature, UCSD
Introduced by Matthew J. Smith, Azusa Pacific University

The Winter's Tale will be performed at 8:00pm at the New Swan Theater. Purchase tickets separately.

RSVP for the Symposium (recommended but not required).


Ballading The Winter’s Tale

This lecture-performance demonstrates that Shakespeare almost obsessively in his plays explores the interrelationship between stage drama and the  broadside ballad. Consisting of text, illustration, and tune title printed on a single sheet, broadside ballads were aimed at all sectors of the populace, and could be passed around, gathered round, belted out communally, and posted up for all (or just a select few) to see. They were popular and protean, as we shall see in the role Shakespeare’s Autolycus plays within this lecture.

Shakespeare adopted snippets and whole stanzas of printed ballads in every play he wrote. Focusing on The Winter’s Tale, we will see and hear Shakespeare’s recognition that drama could both coopt and vie with broadside ballads. In the end, by comparison with this market competitor, he also recognized the limits of the theatrical stage.

A Ballad in Print: Music, Myth, and Literary Making in The Winter's Tale

The Winter’s Tale as the last of the Comedies in the First Folio, and like The Tempest (which is the first), it explores the place of musical performance and lyric poetry in the exercise of rule. In the course of that inquiry, Shakespeare transforms the old language of pastoral into new comic languages of bawdry.  The figure of Autolycus is both a mythic heir to Ovid and a social participant in new practices of ballad selling in Jacobean England. And, throughout its visions of beauty and humor, politics and power, the play relies on the changing language of printing to raise questions about inheritance, legitimacy, textual production, and the arts of the imagination.

This event made possible by the Nora Folkenflik Memorial Fund.

Free and open to the public. Parking at Mesa Parking Structure ($10 for afternoon and evening).